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Letters: What Do You Think?

This week: Iran: “War Is Failure”; Brown Health Policy Bad for Seniors; and Monitoring Homelessness


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Iran: “War Is Failure”

War is no answer to the present conflict between the U.S. and Iran. While I was glad to hear in the presidential debate talk about peaceful resolution of the conflict, I’m concerned that our feckless Congress and some of its chickenhawk members could undermine diplomacy. I hope Senators Kerry and Brown will speak out on the Senate floor in support of diplomacy to prevent war and a nuclear-armed Iran and oppose any legislation that puts roadblocks in the way of diplomacy.

Talking to the Iranians does not mean that they are the good guys. But raining death down on their innocent citizens does not mean that we are. War is failure. War is disaster. War is death.

Robert Lipton
Holyoke

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Brown Health Policy Bad for Seniors

According to the 2010 Census, 3,863 people aged 65 and older live in Northampton, and every one of them should be deeply concerned about Republican Scott Brown’s health care policy. The centerpiece of Brown’s health care policy is working to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care reform law known as Obamacare.

National health care advocacy organization Community Catalyst Action Fund released a new analysis finding that, if the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is repealed, senior citizens in Northampton and across Massachusetts will be saddled with higher costs and fewer benefits.

Obamacare, as it is called, lowers seniors’ Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket costs by an estimated $500 per year. This means that, if Republican Scott Brown gets his way and repeals Obamacare, seniors’ Medicare costs will go up about $5,000 over the next decade.

Obamacare also fills in the so-called “donut hole” in prescription drug coverage for seniors. Between January and August of this year, 31,000 Massachusetts residents hit the “donut hole.” Obamacare saved those Medicare beneficiaries an average of over $600 per person. This means that, if Republican Scott Brown gets his way and repeals Obamacare, seniors’ prescription drug costs will go up dramatically.

Also, during the first eight months of 2012, over 500,000 Medicare beneficiaries across Massachusetts took advantage of no-cost preventive services thanks to Obamacare. If Republican Scott Brown gets his way and repeals ObamaCare, seniors will lose these no-cost preventive services.

Policy decisions made in Washington, D.C. have a real and direct impact on the residents of Northampton. The health care policy that Republican Scott Brown is advocating would have a decidedly harmful impact on Northampton’s seniors.

 

Mathew Helman
ProgressMass

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Monitoring Homelessness

Thank you for your article “No Place to Live” (October 18, 2012), drawing attention to family homelessness and recent state policy changes responding to this urgent issue.

The Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness, an organization that includes over 100 partners and offers broad-based coordination and collaboration to reduce homelessness across the four western counties, provided the central vehicle in the region for discussion and debate over the Commonwealth’s new family shelter regulations.

After multiple meetings over many weeks [that included housing advocates, shelter and housing providers and numerous state agency representatives, the Network arrived at a position on the State’s proposed regulatory changes that can be found on our website at http://westernmasshousingfirst.org/2012/10/04/network-statement-on-proposed-changes-to-emergency-assistance-regulations/

In short, the Network commends the Patrick-Murray administration for its underlying mission to meet homelessness with housing instead of shelter [i.e. in shelters and motels] and applauds the Commonwealth for its increased investment in prevention, re-housing and affordable housing programs. At the same time, the Network is concerned about the unintended consequences that may flow from the regulatory changes, putting families in harm’s way. To better address these concerns, the Network has established an oversight committee that will monitor the impact of these regulations in Western Massachusetts. We will relay our findings and recommendations to state officials, and continue to work together towards our shared goal of keeping families safe and housed. 

Pamela Schwartz
Director Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness

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