Posts Tagged ‘public option’

For many long years, fatherhood to me has had only one dimension: garnishments for child support and unreinmbursed medical expenses for my daughters. Since August 2010, I am enjoying the new rights granted to me by the Supreme Court of New York: being allowed to talk to providers of medical services to my daughters and ask them to fill insurance claim forms: exhilarating.

First order of business: trying to recoup part of some $10,800 of orthodontic expenses for my daughter Chloé between 2006 to


Dialogue de sourds (lepeintrewalje.be)


August 2010;  From 2006 to March 2008, I was insured with Cigna Dental. No hope there: the $8,000 and change of orthodontic expenses incurred during this period are too old to be claimed (I have to remember to ask Cigna to send courtesy t-shirts with the Cigna logo to Ex and Support Magistrate Grey). From April 2008 to November 2009, I had Delta Dental: maybe a slight glimpse of hope for another $2,000 with the “Delta Dental over-the-year review”. Last, a remaining paltry $800 from the beginning of 2010 on, when I became insured with Metlife. I  finally learned after four calls that I can forget about it. These expenses are for follow-up visits after the braces were removed in December 2009, and I was not insured by Metlife then. Why is Metlife not covering follow-up visits? Because. They just ain’t. Have a nice day.

It is not difficult to figure out why the medical professions and private insurance companies don’t want to change anything to the current health insurance system. The former charge whatever they want, the latter cover whatever they want, how much they want and whenever they want. In the middle stand the insured patients, for whom almost every claim is an ordeal.

The main advantage of the new health care law that will be effective four years from now is to allow the 47 million uninsured American to have access to the crumbs of coverage that the currently insured benefit from. Better than nothing, but so tiny compared with what the problem required and what we could have had: a public option (for instance an extension of medicare to the rest of us, as Paul Krugman vindicated) that would have provided us  wide, non-contested coverage. That’s what Tea partiers will never get: public insurance companies are not in the business of denying claims.

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I am one of these folks who was thrilled by Obama’s victory a year ago.  I truly thought that with a Democratic President, a super majority in the Senate, a public option would finally compete with private plans. I was savoring the not-so-far -away day, I mistakenly thought, I would opt out of a private plan and join the public option. I guess not. It looks like for the Democrats, without a super majority of 92 senators in the Senate – 60 real ones (the Barney Frank type), 30 from the South plus Nelson and Lieberman– nothing serious  can happen. During the State of the Union address,the President nicely invited the other side of the aisle to let lim know if they had a better plan to cover the uninsured and reduce the deficit at the same time. Good luck.

Now, check this interesting predicament in the supposedly very democrat New York State. By my 2001 divorce agreement,I am responsible for  $2,000 of unreimbursed medical expenses per year for my two girls. With my employer, I have comprehensive health insurance that covers dental and vision expenses for the family. Accessorily I am complying with New York State law, which mandated via medical support order (New York State Civil Practice Law and Rules 5241) that I take health insurance for my children. But  ex-wife does not want to use my health insurance, threatens the health providers to take her business elsewhere if they bill me instead of her and fill insurance forms. Twice a year on average, she takes me to court for unreimbursed medical expenses that could be reimbursed by my insurance. So far, Manhattan family court’s ruling has taken latitude in its interpretation of  New York State law: I have to provide an insurance for my kids but ex-wife can use it only if she pleases. The outcome is the wildest dream come through for the Republicans and private health insurance companies: a mandate to have insurance and a legal denial of benefits. No “medical losses” in insurance companies terminology. 100 % profits.

That’s the problem with democrats. They are sloppy lawmakers, they are sloppy enforcing the law. Perhaps because they don’t know really what they are: republicans.

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Nebraska's landscape

Thanks to Senators Lieberman and Nelson, we might end up with a bill  lacking the public option and making abortion coverage even more difficult.  The deal: no expansion of medicare to people 55 years old (the Senate version of the public option), every state pays for Nebraska’s medicaid and the two fellows vote for a bill subsidizing the health care industry.

Nelson’s demeanor was perhaps not foreseeable. Lieberman’s  however, completely.  Joe the Spoiler has been the knight of every wrong causes. Everybody remembers his pointless, self-righteous sermon at Clinton after the breaking of the Lewinsky scandal that prompted the impeachment’s madness, his relentless support for the war in Iraq, and now his flip-flopping on heath care reforms.  There is only one way with such sanctimonious egos: a prestigious and innocuous position far, very far from the action: US ambassador to Switzerland or Luxembourg for instance.

I was forgetting: Lieberman brags about his efforts in favor of child support enforcement laws that led to the infamous 1996 Welfare Reform Act, whereby non-custodial parents picked up the tab  for “the end of welfare as we knew it.”  I fear that with no competition in the health insurance market and mandatory health insurance, as premiums go up, the bulk of the bill will ultimately be passed to parents and most of all, to non-custodial ones.

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Shared Parenting Ireland

Shared Parenting Ireland

The wind of progress is so desperately rare in the gloomy world of family courts that when you feel it, it looks like it’s the one which is going to bring the most waited rain on the desert. After years of  the regime “mummy gets full custody, daddy pays what the Court says and sees the kids if mummy feels like it”, science found evidence that kids needed both parents for their development. Family courts recently heard about this unsuspected breakthrough. Outcome: mandatory parenting classes for divorced parents in 27 states (I have not heard of such classes in retarded Manhattan family court).

According to Ann Wallace Allen, these parenting classes give pretty good results. They curb down animosity and the incentives to alienate that are spurred by the current biased family laws. Parents discover that if they are not friends, they can yet manage to communicate, meet at parents-teacher conferences and be both part of the social lives of their children.  And kids happen not to be traumatized by the divorce of their parents for it is not the divorce per se that have a negative impact on them, but the inability of parents to deal with one another within the course of a divorce.

Parenting classes are nice , but the decisive step for father rights is the passing of shared-parenting bills. As the revamping of the health care system is doomed to be dwarfed without a serious public option , there will not be real improvements to the current desastrous family laws without the acknowledgment of equal parenting rights for fathers.

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