New York Health Act New Numbers A5062/S2535

February 26, 2015

Link for Text of  bill can also be reached from the Resource page

How Government Healthcare Saved My Daughter’s Life

February 25, 2015

Sunday, 22 February 2015 00:00

How Government Healthcare Saved My Daughter’s Life

Written by  Claire Surovell

How Government Healthcare Saved My Daughter’s Life

My daughter, Kate, was born at Johns Hopkins hospital in 1994.  I had a private room for three days.  Most mothers are sent home after a day, even if the baby is required to remain in the hospital.  Kate was low birth weight, and a bit jaundiced.  The doctors wanted to keep her there, so they found a way to keep me there.  It cost me something like $27.  For everything, all the pre-natal care, labor and delivery.  Everything.  My husband was in the army and his benefits covered all of it.  I don’t recall even filling out any forms.

Kate was a healthy, happy baby and toddler.  But there were a few scares over the first few years.  Pneumonia and lazy eye early on.  Later, tonsils and adenoids had to come out.  These were mostly routine concerns, and all of them were diagnosed and taken care of immediately.  Then the axe fell.

In 1999, when Kate was in kindergarten, my husband was posted to Hawaii.  During Thanksgiving vacation, my parents, her grandmother and grandfather, visited for the first time.  Although she’d been excited to see them, she was just not herself.  She was tired, lethargic and had no appetite.  When there was no improvement, we took her to the doctor.  He thought she had a sinus infection and put her on antibiotics.  But it didn’t do any good.

By the second week of December, my parents had gone home, assuming that there was nothing seriously wrong with their granddaughter.  But there was still no improvement.  Kate didn’t want to see Santa at a staff party at Fort Shafter, so we went back to the doctor.  While in the waiting room, sitting in my lap with her head listlessly against my shoulder, someone came out and clapped an oxygen sensor on Kate’s finger, took a reading and left abruptly.  She returned with urgency and placed an oxygen mask over Kate’s face.  She then had a chest x-ray, after which we were told to take her to the ER at Tripler Army Medical Center without delay.  After extensive blood work, several doctors came in and the curtain was closed.  Our daughter had ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and it was very bad.

A liter and a half of fluid was drained from her lungs, and a massive program of chemotherapy begun immediately.  There was a laundry list of drugs, whose odd scary names I will never forget.  Vincristine, doxorubicin, mercaptopurine, prednisone, methotrexate, L-asparaginase, zinecard.

Kate was transferred from Tripler to Kapiolani, a women’s and children’s hospital, so she could have immediate kidney dialysis.  She was in the number one bed in the ICU, closest to the nurses’ station, which was reserved for the most critical patient in the room.  We were told that she had a non-functioning immune system, and her electrolyte levels were “incompatible with life.”  After forty-eight hours, she returned to Tripler.

We were terrified.  Kate was dying.  Her oncologist told us that she was the sickest patient he’d ever had at the point of diagnosis.  Children usually just don’t walk in the door looking that bad.  If we had come in even one day later, or if treatment had been delayed by twenty-four hours, her heart would’ve stopped or she’d no longer be able to breathe.  Kate would’ve been dead.

There are established protocols of treatment for ALL.  Very quickly, we were handed a folder; a roadmap of her expected treatments over the next two years.  This began with weekly IV’s for chemotherapy and blood work, which lasted six months.  The visits became monthly, and then quarterly.  Kate took pills every single day for two years.  At one point, I dropped an entire bottle of Zofran, prescribed to control nausea, into the toilet.  Without hesitation, I called the doctor, who told me to just come in and get an immediate re-fill.  I later learned that Zofran retails for $70 a tablet.  At fifteen to twenty pills a bottle, this was an enormous amount of money down the drain.  But the cost was neither mentioned nor an issue.

Kate spent twelve days in the hospital and then came home.  She endured 105 weeks of treatment.  She had cranial radiation.  Her long beautiful honey blond hair fell out.  She vomited after every trip to the hospital and lost weight.  Her face puffed up from steroids, which also made her restless and cranky.  She endured a series of spinal taps, and had an external catheter implanted in her shoulder.  She missed school and suffered mild brain damage, resulting in some fuzzy and frustrating learning disabilities.

But she survived.  She was cured.  Childhood leukemia is the cancer you want your kid to have.  It’s the one with the highest survival rate, over 80%.

As traumatic and nightmarish as all this was, we were spared one fundamental aspect of having to face a life threatening disease.  We did NOT have to fight an insurance company every step of the way.  We didn’t have to fill out dozens of forms, or get company approval for every medical decision.  Her treatment wasn’t determined by cost or whether a doctor was in or out of a network.

Kate had the most excellent care imaginable.  Her doctors were wonderful, even providing me with their home phone numbers.  I can’t imagine what would have happened if we’d had to figure out where to go or how to pay for it.  She was five years old and dying.  I didn’t have any prior understanding of the treatments or options, and I didn’t have the time or energy to research them.  I slept in a chair in the hospital for two weeks, only going home occasionally to shower and change clothes.

Our military health coverage allowed me to be a mother and her doctors to make decisions based on her immediate needs, not how much a procedure cost as compared to whether it might be effective.

I have no doubt that she’s alive now because of that health coverage.  I don’t know the details of the Affordable Care Act.  But I do know that everyone in this county needs, and should have, what my family had.  The simple, complete, easily accessible and effective coverage that saved my daughter’s life.  If this is a single payer system, and that’s the best alternative, then isn’t that what we should have?

Claire Surovell works for a bank in NYC, and is no longer entitled to military benefits.  Kate retains them until age twenty-one, along with commissary privileges.  After that, she can keep them only by paying an additional monthly premium.

Related items

Congressman warns that GOP attacks on Obamacare will cause a favorable outcome

February 13, 2015

THU FEB 12, 2015 AT 09:11 AM PST

Congressman warns that GOP attacks on Obamacare will cause a favorable outcome

by Egberto WilliesFollow

If you are interested in viewing the video go to:


A Chinese proverb comes to mind—”He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself.” Ed Schultz asked Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) whether theRepublican bill to redefine full-time work in the eyes of the Affordable Care Act to a 40-hour week would have a severe impact. McDermott’s answer was thoughtful and reflected what many feel will be Obamacare’s ultimate great outcome.”Well I think if you take in the big picture, Ed, this is in the longterm good for us. Because they are driving us towards single payer. Employers are trying to get out of participating in the employer mandate. They don’t want to provide for their employees if they can get out of it. So they are all playing all sorts of games. And ultimately this 40-hour week thing means everybody—people are working 38 hours or 35 hours—they are not going to have to offer them health insurance either. They will come in to the subsidized exchanges and be a part of the federal system. I think we are moving to a system where business is trying to offload their responsibility for the health of their workers.”

Ed Schultz responded that companies are racing to the bottom for taking advantage of Obamacare in some states even as they attempt to stymie their responsibilities under Obamacare.

Jim McDermott then got to the core of the issue. “I really think that the whole question here of whether we are going to have 40-hour weeks is whether the employers want to give health insurance to their workers or not. In my view they don’t,” McDermott said. “We are talking about middle-class folks who are working 24 hours a week in two different jobs to hold on to their house and their family and their education. They are struggling like mad. And we are not getting any help from the Republicans.”

That last sentence from Rep. McDermott is important. When you hear many falsely criticize Obamacare for creating a part-time economy or that the Obama job market is full of the underemployed, remember that last statement. Irresponsible employers are using plutocracy-inspired government regulations to tailor the workforce to minimize the benefits corporations must give to their employees. It is a dereliction of civics and citizenship. It is for this reason government, “we the people” must force politicians with the power of our vote, not the power of not voting, to effect middle-class-centric policies. Single-payer healthcare, Medicare for all is just a start.




Letter asking State Senator Klein – Sign on to New York Health Bill

February 13, 2015

From: Pearl Korn
Date: February 13, 2015 9:05:20 AM EST
Subject: Good Work Senator
The newspapers seem to be buzzing with some of your very good actions of late Jeff and I am delighted. I am not only one of your constituents in Riverdale but am also a Political Blogger for HuffPost. Your divesting from your law office is commendable and further addressing ethical issues in Albany is the icing on the cake. God knows we have to clean up that sewer so it can begin to function for the people of our state. I hope you continue to lead on the issue?Indeed one of the issues that is major to me is the passage of Dick Gottfried’s Single Payer bill.I believe the no is  AO 5062. It must become finally the law of the state and show the rest of the nation that this can be achieved offering a plan that is affordable and truly includes every resident of the state with quality care. We should be leading the nation on this Jeff. I see that in the Senate there are some 20 co sponsors of the Gottfried bill and further understand you support it? PLEASE sign on and bring in the rest of you IDC colleagues to do like wise. Of course Skelos would be a prize catch as well. And the Assembly will undoubtedly pass this bill.Let’s make history Jeff and show the nation that New Yorkers do march to a special ethical drummer. Let’s pass the single payer bill this year.All good wishes.
Pearl Korn



A View of Health Care from Room K 631 by Pearl Korn on The Huffington Post

February 12, 2015

Pearl Korn is a former photojournalist and longtime advocate for health care reform, and has served as a consultant for members of Congress and the New York State Legislature on this issue.

Please follow the link to read the complete article and the rest of Pearl Korn’s articles on various political topics.

A View of Healthcare from Room K 631

(1) Comments | Posted January 23, 2015 | 9:46 AM

 Hours before Christmas, at exactly 7:00am on December 24th, I was heading to the Emergency Room at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Montefiore is one of the largest hospitals and medical teaching institutions in the country and closely associated with the prestigious Albert Einstein College of Medicine…

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