The unofficial end of summer, Labor Day, may serve as a bookend to a scandal that exploded around the unofficial start, Memorial Day. We speak of the very long wait times to see primary care providers at veterans hospitals and, more seriously, the doctoring of records by some hospital administrators to hide that reality.
Back in May, this writer erred in underestimating the wrongdoing at hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. She'd been swayed by friends who had nothing but praise for their VA hospital experiences — and independent studies by the likes of RAND showing higher patient satisfaction in VA hospitals than in privately run ones.
Also, the blast of outrage bore all the signs of another right-wing attack against "evil" government and, with it, a call to privatize another of its services.
The media, meanwhile, were facing the news desert of a quiet, long weekend. So what perfect timing — especially over a holiday honoring those who served — to flog the accusation that the government was killing veterans by the thousands.
That incendiary charge has thus far proved to be unfounded. The VA inspector general's office has been investigating the deaths of veterans waiting for primary care appointments. So far, it's failed to find evidence of veterans dying because they were on those lists.
The inspector general did uncover some worms, however: Hospital administrators were faking data about those delays. Punishment is being meted.
At the bottom of this emotional story sits a very plain vanilla villain: the nationwide shortage of primary care medical professionals. This scarcity plagues the entire American health care system, government-run and private alike.
In a highly market-based system such as ours, providers go where the money is. That would be the more lucrative medical specialties — and in hospital settings rather than doctors' offices.
In most other countries (though not Canada), patients have shorter waits to see primary care providers. Reliance on expensive specialists to treat conditions that a family doctor could handle helps explain why America spends so much more on health care than do other rich countries.
The reason we know more about the waits at the VA than the ones in the private sector is governments require that such records be kept. The private system does not.
A $16 billion fix for the VA's primary-care problem was signed this month by President Obama. Thousands of such doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are being hired. Most of the money, however, will pay for veterans on long waiting lists — or who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility — to see private providers.
Thus, conservatives got some of what they wanted and some of what they didn't. In their plus column, the system is now somewhat more privatized. In the minus column, conservatives had to approve spending these billions — and after they had blocked a vote in February to spend large sums on some of the same things.
A handful of Republicans refused to vote for the bill, insisting that the entire VA system needs a multiple bypass.
"We need structural changes," said Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican, "a purge of those who made this mess, and more choices for our veterans." "More choices" is code for privatization.
Turns out government can't promise good health care to the growing numbers of veterans — whether through public or private facilities — without spending a lot of money. That's the way it goes.
All is quiet now on the VA hospital front. But where are the 2-inch headlines noting that the 3-inch headlines about murdering veterans were way off? Don't even bother answering.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
To The Daily Sun,
According to Article I of the New Hampshire Constitution: "When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to insure the protection of others." These words are meant to set the tone for a state government that is created to serve the common good.
All of us can remember a time when state representative were proud of the services, funding and assistance they brought to the voters, towns and businesses in their districts. Today, my incumbent opponents appear to have no philosophical interest or desire to use their office in serving the common good by helping our people or businesses succeed. Apparently, it's just not their job anymore.
First, they say we should cut back on the role of government. Next, they claim government incompetence and waste ... and then their conclusion: We shouldn't even try to repair our local roads, provide inexpensive health care, protect women's rights or encourage business.
It's time that we elect reps who speak and work for the people and towns of their districts. I hope to be such a representative. Our officials should only be rewarded with re-election for bringing services and assistance from Concord to our districts.
Democratic State Rep Candidate
Moultonborough, Sandwich & Tuftonboro
Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 08:48
To The Daily Sun,
We are holding an auction on Saturday, Sept. 6, at the VFW in Laconia. This event is being held to help raise funds for Morgan Corliss. Morgan has a rare kidney disease. Her kidney has failed and she is in desperate need of a transplant. She is suffering daily from seizures and constant pain.
Her mother is currently on an unpaid leave of absence from work to help care for Morgan. Morgan has recently been admitted into the hospital to help manage her pain and seizures. Her insurance is not able to cover all of this stay, making this time even more difficult for Morgan and her family.
We are looking for donations of any denomination. We will be collecting donations until the day of the event. Please feel free to contact me at (603) 455-0787 for any additional information that you may need. Thank you in advance for your generosity. All donations are appreciated and will be used toward the organization of this event and to help Morgan and her family, get through this tough time.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 August 2014 06:34
To The Daily Sun,
An open letter to Laconia High School students and their parents:
On Tuesday, Aug. 26, we will open the doors and welcome our students to the 2014-2015 school year. We are very excited about this coming year for many reasons.
Thanks to the tax payers of the City of Laconia, we have improved air quality throughout the building, installed water sprinklers for fire suppression throughout the building, air conditioning in the auditorium and library, have several completely renovated classrooms that look outstanding, and added new ceilings throughout the academic wing.
Thanks to our students caring about being college and career ready, we have the highest number of students taking our most rigorous courses (AP/Honors), the highest number of students in our Project Running Start (college credit) courses, and the highest number of students engaging in our calculus program (four courses).
As we begin this school year, there will be construction activity still going on. Construction by the City of Laconia will be going on in front of the building and that will impact traffic patterns for the high school. Parents may drop their student(s) off in front of the Huot Career Technical Center by turning into the Laconia High School entrance that is after the Autozone Store. Please drop your student at the corner where Mr. Warrender is located. This will facilitate traffic movement and ensure greater student safety. You will exit out of the Huot Career Technical Center parking lot on to Dewey Street.
If you want to drop your student off at the Student Activities Office, you may enter the teacher parking area at the north end of the building and drive to the side entrance of the school. Please remember that this will also be where buses drop off while road construction is going on and that you will need to drive around the building and exit off of Dewey Street if you drop your child at the side entrance of the school. The side entrance doors will be secured at 7:23 this year and only the front main doors will be used for student access after that.
The front doors of the school are also the place you will want to go if you want to drop something off during the school year, go to a meeting, pick your child up due to illness, or drop them off if they are coming in tardy. If you are picking up your child due to disciplinary reasons, you should go to the side entrance and report to the Student Activities Office.
We are asking all parents to be patient with the expected traffic congestion that we know we will experience as we open the school year. Given this reality, plan on leaving a little earlier if you are transporting your student to school and be patient waiting in any lines that develop.
Freshman parents and students, if you would like to see the building and look for your rooms in preparation to the opening of school, you may come into the building on Monday, Aug. 25, to walk the halls and find your rooms. Regular staff will not be working these days so make sure to bring your schedule with you. If an administrator is available, we will be happy to walk with you so you begin to get a feel for the building. Due to construction that was ongoing throughout the summer, we apologize that this was not a component in our Orientation. We are thrilled that 115 freshman showed up for orientation last Thursday and are looking forward to having each new student add to our school community this fall.
If you have any questions that we can help you with as we prepare to open this school year, do not hesitate to contact the main office at Laconia High School.
Jim McCollum, Principal
Laconia High School
Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 08:39
To The Daily Sun,
The mayor and City Council's response to the mistake made in the Sept. 10, 2013, Laconia Primary Election results for Laconia Ward 5 City Council seat is to take away the voters of Laconia's constitutional rights by limiting a write-in candidate's access to having their name placed on the ballot.
In September 2013, Laconia City Manager Scott Myers asked Laconia City Clerk Mary Reynolds, "to gather information relative to municipal primary elections that are held in September of each odd numbered year." (City Council Meeting 2/24/2014.) At the May 12, 2014, City Council Meeting, by request of Mayor Ed Engler, "there has been a provision added to require a minimum of 35 votes by a write-in candidate to be declared a primary or election winner." Councilor Bownes correctly asked, "if there is a population correlation to the number of write-in votes you would need to receive." City Clerk Reynolds correctly replied that, "this is the number for state election" but then incorrectly said, "there is no correlation to the population." The 35 write-in votes has to do with RSA 659 - Election Procedure Canvass and Declaration: STATE Primary Election 659:88 Write-in Votes and Nomination. I. (a) "A person whose name was not printed on the official state Primary Election ballot of a political party shall not be entitled to the nomination of that party for any office unless the person received at least 35 write-in votes." RSA 659 has to do with State Partisan Elections not Laconia's City Non-Partisan Elections.
A State Primary Election has thousands of voters versus a Ward Primary Election which could have 50 voters or less.
At the Aug. 11, 2014, public hearing on the proposed charter amendments, Thomas Tardif and myself asked about the New Hampshire constitutionality of the proposed amendment having to do with the 35 write-in requirement before someone could have their name placed on the ballot. Questioning whether someone who received 34 write-votes in the primary and won the Primary Election, would that person's name be placed on the city's ballot. Or, if someone won the Laconia City Election, Mayor, City Councilor, School Board, Police Commissioner or Ward Clerk, ect. with 34 write-in votes, would that person be declared the winner? Mayor Ed Engler quickly answered "no."
The Constitution of New Hampshire Article 11 Elections and Elective Franchises."Every inhabitant of the state, having the proper qualifications, has equal rights to be elected into office." Chapter 44 Cities and Wards Local Elections Section 44:14 Procedure. "In all elections of City and Ward Officers the person having the highest number of votes for any office shall be elected." This Charter Amendment is in conflict with the NH Constitution and RSA Chapter 44.
Chapter 49-B:1 Home Rule-Municipal Charters, "Accordingly, this chapter shall be strictly interpreted to allow towns and cities to adopt, amend, or revise a municipal charter relative to their form of government so long as the resulting Charter is neither in conflict with nor inconsistent with the general laws or the Constitution this State." This is based on the N.H. Constitution Article 39 Changes in Towns and City Charters, Referendums Required.
"The legislature may by general law authorize cities and towns to adopt or amend their charters or forms of government in any way which is not in conflict with General Law." This Charter Amendment is in Conflict with the N.H. Constitution and the General Laws of the State of New Hampshire.
The City of Laconia's Charter does not provide for an alternative method for becoming a candidate which is required. CHAPTER 49-C Local Option — City Charters Elections Section 49-C:6 Preparation of Ballots, "The Charter Shall specify a filing period, the filing fee to be paid for each office, and, as an alternative method of becoming a candidate on the ballot, the number of qualified voters which may be subscribed to nominating petition in such form as the charter may set out."
In The Laconia Daily Sun 8/13/2014, "City Clerk Mary Reynolds, who initiated the process to restructure the primary election, said that the proposed Charter Amendment has been reviewed not only by the city attorney but also by the New Hampshire Secretary of State and the Attorney General, who suggested 35 votes as the minimum. Moreover, she said that Manchester, Nashua and Concord all require write-in candidates to poll a minimum of 35 votes." I've reviewed the City Charters of those three cities and cannot find any 35 vote minimum or any minimum write-in requirement in their City Charters.
Why would the Mayor and City Council want to limit access to the ballot? Which will only lower voter turnout?
Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 08:35