Tag: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Health Care Stories

This evening I attended a Spaghetti Dinner sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Met up with a couple of people on Sheldon’s staff that I had worked with when we were all at the RI Secretary of State’s office. Overall all about 130 people showed up for the event.

The event was MC’d by Providence Mayor David Ciciline:

Mayor Ciciline MCs Health Care Dinner
Mayor Ciciline MC's Health Care Dinner

And then Sheldon got up to say a few words before handing microphones out to the crowd:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

It was a bit of a political who’s who, what with city councilmen John Lombardi (Ward, 13) , Nick Narducci (Ward 4), Peter Mancini (Ward 14), Terry Hasset (Ward 12), and Michael Solomon (Ward 5) and Rep. Grace Diaz. Also in attendance was Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman. One commonality among the politicians that attended, they all represent areas with a large number of elderly and economically disadvantaged.

There were some compelling stories. I didn’t tell mine but I’ve gone without treatment for this inner ear condition because I don’t even have coverage at this point. And the nerve sectioning in the inner ear won’t be cheap I’m sure. Other people were talking about the $15,000 for this, $7,000 for that, etc. The time and money wasted because we don’t have a viable public health care solution yet.

Sheldon did talk about a public insurance program. And he alluded to something that I should have asked but didn’t. He says that the public system will cause the private system to shape up. I suspect the public system would drain off the more expensive cases from the private insurers. In order to balance the system strong regulation would need to be put in place. Perhaps a fair system for those with expensive chronic conditions would be to create a pool of insurers including the public and assign people to those insurers by random lottery. This way all plans would share in the care for chronic conditions.

Sheldon did touch on efficiencies in health care delivery which is encouraging. But the idea of a for-profit insurer or a for-profit health provider runs counter to my beliefs. I don’t mean doctors and nurses should be taking a lower rate of pay, but that hospitals and insurers need to change the focus form providing for the shareholders to providing for the insured.

New Money for ITS Programs in RI

Apparently Senator Jack Reed was in RI announcing the $1.34 Million dollar grant to the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA).

The enhancements according to RIPTA are:

“Thanks to Senator Reed, RIPTA will be able to add Intelligent Transportation System technology to all 240 of its fixed-route buses, bringing the RIPTA bus fleet into the 21st century. This new technology, which will also include real-time information for customers at our transit centers, will result in greatly improved service for our customers. We are very grateful to the Senator for securing the funding to make all this possible,” said RIPTA’s General Manager. Mr. Moscola also thanked Senator Reed for obtaining ITS funding for RIPTA in the past.

The enhancements will include vehicle location, automatic A/V announcements of stops on buses, and computer aided dispatch. I guess they’ve been putting GPS transceivers in all the buses lately.

This is good and I’d like to see this technology spread to major stops (E.g. those with shelters). It’d be easy to throw solar on the roof of the shelter to power a networked device. I’m pretty sure they could even work a deal with the City of Providence to tie them into the MESH network the city has deployed all over the place. You can spot them easily, they’re little whip antennas on top of street lights.

And down the street from me is a PowerWave Repeater for the network. It’s just hanging on a pole with a bigger whip on top of the pole. I’ll have to see how many of these I can spot in the neighborhood.

I’ve also emailed both my Senators and my Representative telling them that if MA could get $20 Billion to bury I-93, we should sure as hell be able to get a similar amount to put in tracked public transit in RI, especially in the urban core.

We don’t even have to bury the pathways for the light rail either. Just lay it into the road. You could even run power underground – put a third rail recessed a few feet into the ground. No need for overhead catenary. And those light rail trains are low enough to the ground that you wouldn’t worry about pedestrian hazards with it.

It’s time for us to re-think RI’s transportation strategy.