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Vote “Yes” on Question #2 to ensure that dental insurance companies pay for dental care.  

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton-Swing Left Western MA.

We are voting on four ballot questions this year. I’m writing to recommend we vote “Yes” on Question #2, which requires that insurance companies spend our dollars on actual dental care, instead of executive salaries, corporate profits, and administration. I think patient dollars should be spent on patient care.  

A “Yes” vote on Question #2 would require dental insurance companies to spend at least 83% of our premiums on member dental expenses. And it would protect against increases in dental premiums above the CPI, unless approved by the state.  

My own dental plan has high premiums and lots of deductibles. I would feel better knowing that most of the dollars which I send to the insurance company will pay for real dental care and not for company profits.

In Massachusetts, our medical insurance companies are required to spend a similar percent of premiums on actual medical care. It’s time that dental insurance companies are regulated to the same standards as our medical plans, to prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of us.  

This measure is endorsed by the Mass. Dental Society and other local dental groups, and by the American Dental Association, who feel that dental insurance should pay for dentistry. 

To illustrate the current problem, Delta Dental spent $177 million on patient care in 2019. But it sent $291 million in profits to its parent company that year. That’s not right. 

By requiring that more premium dollars are spent on patient care, this rule can reduce costs for patients and make dental care more affordable for us all.  

Please vote “Yes” on Question #2. Thank you.  

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Let’s celebrate Democratic wins for America!

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton-Swing Left Western MA.

President Biden and the Democrats have passed many laws to benefit all Americans, and now it’s time for us to celebrate these wins. They’ve made tremendous progress on the economy, jobs, fighting inflation, and tackling climate change. These important bills required Democrats as diverse as Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin to find agreement despite their differences. They did it to help all Americans. They did this over and over – and against the nearly unanimous obstruction of the extremist GOP.  Let’s celebrate these big wins:  

  • March 2021: American Rescue Plan Act, $1.9 trillion to save the economy during Covid, by supporting public health, governments, businesses, and everyday Americans.
  • November 2021:  Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, $1.2 trillion to rebuild our country’s infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.  
  • June 2022: Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first real gun control legislation in years.
  • July 2022: CHIPS and Science Act, a huge science bill including billions to make critical computer chips in America.
  • August 2022: Honoring our PACT Act to provide healthcare for vets exposed to toxins during their service. It passed despite multiple Republicans voting against it.  
  • August 2022: Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment our country has ever made to fight climate change. It’s a huge victory which will begin to save our planet. It also lets Medicare negotiate some drug prices to lower costs, and helps Americans pay for health insurance. And it includes a 15% minimum tax on rich corporations’ profits, too. 

It’s easy to overlook the many good things being done in our country. While the MAGA Republicans focus on fear, hatred, and divisiveness, we are happy to celebrate these Democratic wins which will benefit all Americans, and make our country a better place to live and raise families in the future.  We are proud of these accomplishments that the Democrats delivered. Let’s be sure to  remember in November.  

From Movement Voter Project

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Congress Can and Must Reform the Extreme Court

By Lawrence Pareles

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

The U.S. Supreme Court just finished its most consequential term in decades. Its new extremist majority is out of control and is preparing to take away even more of our rights and freedoms. In a single year, six justices ended womens’ right to their personal freedom to make critical and personal decisions about their own reproductive care, ended states’ rights to make sensible gun rules, limited the ability of the EPA to reduce air pollution, and eroded the boundary between church and state. They have done this by ignoring past precedent and offering spurious “originalist” theory to justify their actions.These actions are radical and very unpopular, and seriously threaten Americans’ freedoms. This extreme Court is driving our country towards dictatorship and social upheaval.  

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Make the Governor’s Records Public

By Larry Pareles

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

Secretary of State Bill Galvin supports a bill to have the governor’s office follow the public records law. “The idea that the most powerful position in the state and its records are not subject to public scrutiny is absurd,” he said. His bill would make the governor’s office documents open to the public for the first time. MA is the only state in the country that shields its governor’s records from public review. 

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) filed the bill on Galvin’s behalf. Sen. Eldridge has already championed other bills to greatly expand the public records law.

Senator Eldridge said: “Each and every day the governor’s office and all of his or her agencies are making critical decisions that have an impact on the lives of people across MA… Having access to the records of all the communication is critical to gaining insight into the rationale behind those decisions.”

MA state government makes fewer documents public than many states since the governor, the judiciary, and the legislature all claim they are exempt from the public records law. 

Gubenatorial candidate Attorney General Maura Healey supports having the governor’s office follow the public records law. Her spokesperson said: “AG Healey has long supported updating the public records law to cover the Governor’s Office in the interest of transparency and accountability.” 

Sen. Eldridge’s bills to expand the public records law (which would also include the Legislature) have gone nowhere until now. Now is a good time to pass this legislation. Maybe under a Democratic governor we will see some improvements in transparency in our state government. 

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MA Medicare for All

Dear Chairpersons Friedman and Lawn, and members of the Joint Committee on Health Care Finance,

I’m a resident of Florence, writing to supply evidence supporting An Act Establishing Medicare for all in Massachusetts.

I’ve worked as a front-line private physician providing medical care for 40 years. I’ve directly seen the strengths and weaknesses of our medical system, and I see that our healthcare insurance system is failing all of us. I’ve seen the great work of some of the best doctors in the world. I’ve been joined at the bedside by some of the most dedicated and hardworking nurses you can imagine. And I’ve seen up-close how our private medical insurance system hurts almost everyone- people, caregivers, employers, and our society too. I’ve seen a young diabetic woman die because she didn’t have enough money to pay for insulin. I’ve seen several people wait until their cancer got too advanced because they were afraid of the cost of treatment. I’ve seen many people hurt as Covid ravaged poor communities with our non-functional system despite many people “having insurance.” I’ve seen people making impossible trade-offs between paying for their medical care vs paying for their food.

The price we pay for our profit-driven medical insurance system is very high- it’s paid in illness, suffering, and even death. Every other modern country in the world uses single payer health insurance because it’s the best (and most cost-effective) way to pay for healthcare. Other countries pay half of what we pay and have better health outcomes. Our young women should never die during childbirth while bringing our next generation of children into this world. Our older people with limited incomes shouldn’t struggle to pay for their medicines while drug companies make fortunes. For many years our system has been failing. It provides low-quality care at a very high cost, while delivering too little real medical care to people. Everyones’ lives would be better if a single payer system became part of the social fabric of our society.

We need a single payer system that works for people and prioritizes quality medical care over profits, like all the other modern countries in the world. We could have a single payer system here if we just develop the political will to improve our system. Single payer healthcare is extremely popular. Just ask any Medicare recipient if they would ever willingly give up their single payer healthcare to return to private insurance!

In the past, Massachusetts was a leader in healthcare innovation and can be one now. We provided a model for our nation, and can do that again. With the political stalemate in Washington, we can’t wait for the federal government to solve this for us. We need to fix it here and now. We could lead the way for the whole country. A single payer system is the only realistic way for society to pay for our healthcare and lower costs. I strongly urge you to pass the Medicare for All bills H.1267 and S.766 to really improve the lives of the people in our Commonwealth. Our health and well-being depends on solving this now.

Thank you.

Lawrence M. Pareles, MD, FACC