Getting A Better Return On Our Healthcare Investments

The graph on the right shows how the United States stands out in the world of health care; we spend far more on healthcare than any other country but our life expectancy is lower than most advanced nations.

However, now that healthcare.gov is back online, many Americans have turned back their personal cost-curve on health care. Even Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was embarrassed by his success in signing up for Obamacare during a big show he orchestrated in order to demonstrate the failure of the website. (According to NBC, a DC Health Care exchange representative actually tried to contact Boehner by phone during the enrollment process but was put on hold for 35 minutes.)

Here is a sample success story from the Los Angeles Times:

Judith Silverstein, 49, a Californian who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. Her family helps her pay the $750 monthly cost of her existing plan–which she only had because of federal law requiring that insurers who provide employer-based insurance continue to offer coverage if the employer goes out of business, as hers did. Next year she’ll get a subsidy that will get her a good “silver” level plan for $50.

Three local stories follow the jump.

  • In Lackawanna County, after years of denials because of his pre-existing condition, a self-employed contractor now has better health care coverage for less money thanks to Obamacare.
  • According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a man from Pittsburgh’s South Side man has benefited twice from Obamacare — first with high-risk coverage, then with lower-cost coverage through the exchange.
  • In Philadelphia, Obamacare has cut a diabetic small businesswoman’s monthly premiums by $500 – and that’s before she factors in the tax credits.

American Vision – Prologue

Prologue of American Vision by Bruce Ticker

Bruce Ticker has written a new book American Vision. He has given us permission to publish this work as a weekly series. Here is the prologue.

Even on a day when almost nothing happens, the course of American history can be set for more than two centuries.

One such day was July 17, 1787. The birth of the Connecticut Compromise is customarily dated to July 16, 1787, when the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia approved a fresh but flawed legislative system, as part of a broader package of provisions for the budding Constitution.

Prior to 10 a.m. on the 17th, delegates from the most populous states to the Convention gathered at what is now Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to assess the convention’s vote from the day before.

The Connecticut Compromise created a split form of government: Each member of the House of Representatives would represent the same number of Americans, on a proportionate basis, and each state would be represented by the same number of senators regardless of population.

More after the jump.
The compromise split the difference between the Virginia Plan for proportionate representation in both chambers and the response to the Virginia delegates, the New Jersey Plan. New Jersey’s delegates, afraid that the large states would overwhelm smaller states like New Jersey, demanded equal representation in all chambers.

Under Convention rules, each delegate had the right to raise any issue whenever they wanted, even after a decisive vote was taken. That means the issue could be reopened on any given day, and that day was July 17.

The main players of this caucus – Virginians James Madison and Edmund Randolph, Pennsylvanians James Wilson and Gouverneur Morris, and Rufus King of Massachusetts – reopened the issue, however briefly. They met to discuss how to react to the July 16 vote on the basis of their insistence that both the House and Senate should represent the people on a proportionate basis.

As constitutional scholar Richard Beeman writes, Madison reported that “the time was wasted in vague conversation on the subject, without any specific proposition or agreement.”

In his book “Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution,” Beeman characterizes the outcome this way: “He discovered much to his chagrin that only a handful of delegates felt as strongly about the issue as he did, and no one was willing to risk the outcome of the Convention on it.”

So on March 4, 1789, the newly-revamped Congress convened in New York City for the first time at Wall and Nassau streets, eight blocks southeast of the future site of the demolished World Trade Center. Actually, it took roughly a month before either chamber had a quorum. Come April 30, George Washington was inaugurated at the same site as the first president of the United States.

Madison and the other four were apprehensive about a Senate where each state is authorized to send the same number of senators to Congress. As Beeman puts it, “They held the principled view that it was wrong to give any state government, be it a large state or a small one, too much weight and authority within the national government. The only way to avoid that injustice was to represent the people according to their numbers.”

History would repeatedly prove Madison and associates to be right. For example, the senators from New Jersey, Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, and Maryland, Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, discovered in 2010 that the wealthy would retain their tax cuts and health-care reform would be watered down. Delaware Sens. Thomas R. Carper and Christopher A. Coons advocate for most of the same concerns affecting the three states.

Such lapses are mainly rooted in how the Senate is composed in combination with its much-abused filibuster rule.

More than two centuries earlier, the chief opponents of proportionate representation in the Senate represented Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Though Delaware ranks 45th in population with 844,000 residents, New Jersey now ranks 11th with 8.7 million people and Maryland is 19th, population 5.6 million, according to Census Bureau figures. With 19.5 million people, New York is now the third most populous state.

Many of the 37.5 million Americans from these states are paying today in large part because of the Connecticut Compromise.

Pittsburgh Jewish Community Offers Free Jewish Education

Celebrating decades of tradition in the Pittsburgh community, Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools have announced a new program to provide free tuition for students who are new to Jewish day school in Pittsburgh and are entering grades 3-11 for the 2011-2012 school year. Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools include Community Day School, Hillel Academy and Yeshiva Schools, located in Squirrel Hill.

More after the jump.
With tuition that ranges from $4,675 – $14,000 per year depending upon the school and age of the child, this program offers a unique opportunity for Jewish families to have their children experience a high quality private education coupled with a rich understanding of Jewish history, language, culture and traditions. Support for the program is coming from each of the three schools, as well as from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future.

“Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools provide the highest quality private school education coupled with a deep and lasting connection to Jewish values,” said Chuck Perlow, Chairman of the Pittsburgh Jewish Day School Council. “With a strong connection to this community, Hillel Academy, Community Day School and Yeshiva Schools are working collaboratively to give more children and their families the opportunity to experience all that a Jewish Day School education has to offer.”

“Given their collective commitment to rigorous academics, students who attend one of the Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools typically excel on their standard achievement tests (SAT’s) and go on to succeed in private schools, Ivy League and competitive colleges, universities and seminaries around the world,” said David Shapira, co-chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Foundation. The Foundation’s Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future, in conjunction with the schools, has underwritten the program offering the scholarship funds. “Across their spectrum, the Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools offer the highest quality education with options that will suit the preferences and needs of any Jewish family.”

The free tuition program is for local, permanent residents who apply to one of the three Jewish Day Schools for the first time. The student must meet admission guidelines for the desired school and be currently enrolled in any school in Allegheny County. Families that are new to the area will not be eligible at this time. To qualify, students must be enrolled prior to the start of the 2011-2012 school year. Families interested in learning more about qualifying can go to www.pittsburghjewishdayschools.com or contact one of the three schools to schedule a tour.

“As a city, Pittsburgh needs strong neighborhoods in order to thrive,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. “For decades, the Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools have been strong partners in creating a tremendously stable neighborhood in Squirrel Hill. For Jews and non-Jews alike, these schools are an important part of the fabric that makes this community unique. They have attracted students from around the world and led talented professionals to relocate to Pittsburgh over other regions, so their children can experience this unique Jewish Day School education.”

About Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools
Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools are both a magnet and an anchor for the community, contributing stability and a unique cooperation with our community partners. Across our spectrum and amid the umbrella of Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools that are nestled in the Squirrel Hill community, we offer:

  • Community Day School: Founded in 1972, Community Day School, a Solomon Shechter Day School, nurtures 280 Jewish children from kindergarten through 8th grade to become young people who are academically strong, good people, knowledgeable Jews, and contributing citizens of K’lal Yisrael (the people of Israel), the United States, and our world. The school is committed to helping each individual child excel in his or her studies, in spirituality, on the athletic field, and in the social arena. Community Day School educators recognize that children learn at different rates, in different styles, and from diverse strengths, and the school builds programs that help them grow from strength to strength.

  • Hillel Academy: Founded in 1948, Hillel Academy has 242 students and offers an emphasis on Jewish and rigorous general studies, a love of Israel and recognition of the commitment to community service for children preschool through high school. A PA Pre-K Counts School, Hillel Academy offers the Isadore Joshowitz Early Childhood Center, a NAEYC accredited early childhood center for Jewish children beginning at age two and is committed to creating a community filled with inquisitive minds and thoughtful students who become strong Jewish leaders. We bring our students a top notch general studies education with the timeless teaching of Torah study and Jewish values.
  • Yeshiva Schools: Founded in 1943, Yeshiva Schools offers a comprehensive curriculum of secular and Judaic studies for children from preschool through high school. Approximately 400 students from diverse backgrounds attend Yeshiva. Dedicated to educating the whole child, Yeshiva imbues its students with a deep understanding of Torah that has inspired thousands of graduates to live as proud Jews in myriad professions in countries all over the world.