Monthly Archives: March 2010

HOLT TOUTS IMMEDIATE HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM BENEFITS FOR NJ

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2010

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today highlighted benefits of health insurance reform that would go into effect within the year. Holt attended President Obama’s bill signing on Tuesday.

“Health care reform has been a long time coming – almost 100 years in the making. Yet, the benefits will be felt immediately, giving families and small businesses control over their health care,” Holt said. “Small businesses will soon receive tax credits, patients will no longer lose coverage when they get sick, and seniors will have help paying for prescription drugs and have access to free preventive care. And as it turns out, lawyers combing the legislation have failed to find any death panels.”

The following reforms would go into effect within the year:

• Providing tax credits for small business owners who help pay health insurance for employees

• Providing $250 payments to help seniors who find themselves in the prescription drug donut hole (and eventually the donut hole will be eliminated)

• Banning insurance companies from dropping coverage when someone gets sick

• Preventing Insurance companies from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions

• Prohibiting insurance companies from setting lifetime limits or restrictive annual caps on benefits

• Extending free preventive care in all new private plans

• Establishing a new independent appeals process for those who feel they have unfairly been denied an insurance claim

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), health insurance reform legislation would cut the deficit by $143 billion in the first ten years and by $1.2 trillion in the second decade. CBO determined that the bill would extend Medicare’s solvency by at least 9 years and expand health coverage to 32 million Americans, guaranteeing coverage for 95 percent of Americans.

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Filed under Congressional Budget Office, Congressman Rush Holt, health care reform, Health Insurance Reform, press release

Health insurance reform: How will it affect YOU this year!

From my friends at Newjerseynewsroom.com:

“Health care reform has been a long time coming – almost 100 years in the making,” said U.S. Rep Rush Holt (NJ-12). “Yet, the benefits will be felt immediately, giving families and small businesses control over their health care.

“Small businesses will soon receive tax credits, patients will no longer lose coverage when they get sick, and seniors will have help paying for prescription drugs and have access to free preventive care. And as it turns out, lawyers combing the legislation have failed to find any death panels.”

The following are key provisions that take effect within a year:

FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

SMALL BUSINESS TAX CREDITS — Offers tax credits to small businesses to make employee coverage more affordable. Tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums will be immediately available. Effective beginning for calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2014, small business tax credits will cover 50 percent of premiums.)

FOR SENIORS

BEGINS TO CLOSE THE MEDICARE PART D DONUT HOLE — Provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010. Effective for calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2011, institutes a 50% discount on brand-name drugs in the donut hole; also completely closes the donut hole by 2020.)

FREE PREVENTIVE CARE UNDER MEDICARE — Eliminates co-payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program. Effective beginning January 1, 2011.

HELP FOR EARLY RETIREES — Creates a temporary re_insurance program (until the Exchanges are available) to help offset the costs of expensive health claims for employers that provide health benefits for retirees age 55-64. Effective 90 days after enactment

FOR THOSE PRIVATELY INSURED

NO DISCRIMINATON AGAINST CHILDREN WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS — Prohibits health plans from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Effective 6 months after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, this prohibition would apply to adults as well.)

NO RESCISSIONS — Bans health plans from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Effective 6 months after enactment.

NO LIFETIME LIMITS ON COVERAGE — Prohibits health plans from placing lifetime caps on coverage. Effective 6 months after enactment.

TIGHTLY REGULATES ANNUAL LIMITS ON COVERAGE — Tightly restricts new plans’ use of annual limits to ensure access to needed care. These tight restrictions will be defined by HHS. Effective 6 months after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, the use of any annual limits would be prohibited for all plans.)

FREE PREVENTIVE CARE UNDER NEW PLANS — Requires new private plans to cover preventive services with no co-payments and with preventive services being exempt from deductibles. Effective 6 months after enactment.

NEW, INDEPENDENT APPEALS PROCESS FOR NEW PLANS — Ensures consumers in new plans have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal decisions. Effective 6 months after enactment.

MORE FOR YOUR PREMIUM DOLLAR — Requires plans to put more of your premiums into your care, and less into profits, CEO pay, etc. This medical loss ratio requires plans in the individual and small group market to spend 80 percent of premiums on medical services, and plans in the large group market to spend 85 percent. Insurers that don’t meet these thresholds must provide rebates to policyholders. Effective on January 1, 2011.

NO DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SALARY — Prohibits new group health plans from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that have the effect of discriminating in favor of higher wage employees. Effective 6 months after enactment.

FOR THOSE UNINSURED

IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS (INTERIM HIGH-RISK POOL) — Provides immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre- existing condition — through a temporary high-risk pool — until the Exchanges up and running in 2014. Effective 90 days after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, health plans are banned from discriminating against all people with pre-existing conditions, so high_risk pools would phase out).

EXTENDING COVERAGE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE UP TO 26TH BIRTHDAY THROUGH PARENTS’ INSURANCE — Requires health plans to allow young people up to their 26th birthday to remain on their parents’ insurance policy, at the parents’ choice. Effective 6 months after enactment.

GENERAL REFORMS

COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS — Increases funding for Community Health Centers to allow for nearly doubling the number of patients served over the next 5 years. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.

MORE PRIMARY CARE DOCTORS — Provides new investment in training programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.

HEALTH INSURANCE CONSUMER ASSISTANCE — Provides aid to states to establish offices of health insurance consumer assistance to help consumers file complaints and appeals. Effective beginning in FY 2010.

CREATES NEW, VOLUNTARY, PUBLIC LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM — Creates a long-term care insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become functionally disabled. Effective on January 1, 2011.

MORE REFORMS THAT BEGIN IN 2014 (WHEN EXCHANGES HAVE FORMED)

NO DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ADULTS WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

BAN ON HIGHER PREMIUMS FOR WOMEN

PREMIUMS BASED ON AGE CAN ONLY VARY BY A MAXIMUM OF 3 -TO -1 RATIO

CAP ON OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES for private health plans.


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Filed under healthcare reform, New Jersey Newsroom, Seniors, small businesses

Questions Remain About the Sudden About Face On The Middletown Sports Field Issue

There are still many questions that remain and need to be answered when it comes to the sudden announcement that Gerry Scharfenberger made during Tuesday night’s Neighborhood Meeting at Croydon Hall.
It has become apparent based on an email I received that some are starting to ask those questions and want answers:

I’m sure many of you have heard the news, about the fate of the turf fields, that was announced at last night’s Neighborhood Meeting. There are many questions still unanswered about this decision:

1. The Neighborhood Meetings were billed as an event that “no formal action will take place”. The Mayor decided to take formal action by announcing this decision. I have announcements, below, that explain the purpose of the Neighborhood Meetings.These were taken from the Township website and the alert system that the Township has in place.

Neighborhood Meeting – Senior Center
3/23/2010 – 7:00:00 PM
The Township Committee will hold a Neighborhood Meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23 At the Middletown Senior Center, 900 Leonardville Road, to give residents an opportunity to speak informally with township officials and staff about life in Middletown. Township Committee members, and representatives from the departments of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Planning; Police and Public Works are scheduled to attend. No formal action will be taken.


Location:
Middletown Senior Center
Croydon Hall
900 Leonardville Road

Leonardo, NJ 07737

Source:

http://www.middletownnj.org/html/EventDetails.asp?EventID=2f8b8140-7923-480e-9c2d-e1b80643d843&EventDate=2010-03-23

Neighborhood Meeting 3-22-2010
posted Monday, March 22, 2010 4:08 PM
Dear Resident:The next Middletown Neighborhood Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23rd at the Middletown Senior Center, 900 Leonardville Road. Neighborhood meetings are held annually to give residents an opportunity to speak informally with township officials and staff about life in Middletown. Township Committee members, and representatives from the departments of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Planning; Police and Public Works are scheduled to attend. No formal action will be taken. The last Neighborhood Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 30th at the Tonya Keller Bayshore Community Center, 50 Bray Ave.

Source:

https://my.c3alert.us/middletownnj/home/welcome

2. At what public meeting did the Committee decide to return the bond? This is not a decision that can be made by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, or any other Committee person. It must be decided in a public meeting with a vote by ALL Committee members. I believe that a bond ordinance must be have approval of at least 4/5 of the Committee to become effective. The question is, Can the Mayor legally announce this since no formal action was taken on his decision?

3. According to the by-laws of the Township, the Mayor is a member of the Committee and is appointed by the other members of the Committee. His sole functions are to lead Committee meetings and sign legislation that is passed by the Committee. I don’t believe that he has any other authority than that, besides what the other Committee members have. Any announcements, coming from the Township, should be with the approval of the whole Committee, not just one member of the Committee.

These questions need to be asked as well as:


– How much interest have WE paid over the past 4 years on this bond?
– How much has OUR bond counsel (Middletown GOP Chairman) charged US to sell the bonds and now buy them back?
– What other legal expenses are associated with the whole bond. beginning with the sale to retirement?
– Why isn’t the plan presented, by Mr. Vrabel, acceptable? Who determined this?

The sudden announcement of the cancellation of the turf projects at a neighborhood meeting that wasn’t suppose to be an official meeting where actions would be taken on any subject specific subject is troubling.
What really changed the collective mind of the Township to drop plans for the fields and when and with whom were theses plans discussed with? As the email stated, the Mayor doesn’t have the authority to act alone when making decisions regardless if the Town Administrator or others thought that the plan should be cancelled. This is a decision that would have had to be have been made during a formal meeting with every committee member present and from what I know that did not happen.
Middletown’s “shadow government” has once again crept in from the darkness and reared its ugly head.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Asbury Park Press, Croydon Hall, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middeltown Township, Pop Warner, shadow government, sports complex, Tony Mercantante, Trezza Field

$140 million Middletown school budget calls for tax hike, layoffs

Here is the latest news from last night’s Middletown Board of Education budget meeting, I couldn’t make it there so I have been waiting for word about what transpired:

BY JENNIFER BRADSHAW – The Asbury Park Press

MIDDLETOWN — The Board of Education unanimously approved a proposed $140.3 million budget tonight that calls for a 3.9 percent tax increase and 124 layoffs to close a gap in the spending plan.

Superintendent Karen Bilbao said in order to make more than $9 million in cuts, all nontenured teachers in the district would have to receive notices of nonrenewal.

Supplemented by a $123.8 million tax levy, the budget had to be substantially trimmed after state aid was cut by $7.2 million for the 2010-11 school year. In addition, $2.8 million in state aid was cut from this year’s budget.

After the state announced its aid numbers for 2010-11, layoffs grew to 72 teachers, 20 paraprofessionals, 16 secretaries, eight facilities staff members and seven administrators for $4.1 million in savings.

At the crowded meeting, Bilbao asked the public not to think of the cuts as “people” but rather as “positions,” meaning that tenured teachers in those cut positions could be reassigned.

Bilbao announced at the meeting that she, in addition to several others in the central office, would be freezing their salaries for a year, in light of the cuts.

According to the district, the 3.9 percent total tax increase will add $183 a year in taxes to an average assessed home of $435,000.

If state aid cuts had not been so deep, the tax increase would have been 2.7 percent, the district said.

Tonight’s meeting was the first introduction of the district budget, originally scheduled to be unveiled at the March 18 workshop meeting. It was postponed after state aid numbers came out a day earlier.

Bilbao also said the district teachers union was asked for a salary freeze regarding the following school year, as well as a freeze on stipends for those teachers involved in extracurricular activities, but both requests were denied.

Linda McLaughlin, president of the teachers union, read from a prepared statement in defense of the union’s stance, stating that the existing contract between the union and the district was hard to come by, after hostile negotiations in previous years.

The teachers of the district are also taxpayers and not exempt from economic troubles, she said. A freeze would “(Make) our families even more vulnerable in a shaky economy,” she said.

Earlier in the month, it was announced that the district was already working with a $4.3 million budget hole, caused by increased district costs, and a loss of $2.8 million in surplus funds, through an executive order mandating all districts to use the money in their surplus accounts to cover expenses for the remainder of the 2009-10 school year.

Business administrator Bill Doering then said that the district’s surplus funds are often used as budgeted tax relief for the coming school year, with an absence of those funds causing a hole in the subsequent year’s budget.

To see the Final Budget Presentation and the Final 2010-2011 Proposed Budget from the Middletown Board of Education, you can go to the BOE’s website by clicking >>> Here to read them.

This is a bad job by the teachers union when so many in Middeltown and around the state are hurting, they should be ashamed of themselves! What about the families of the 124 people that will now lose their livelihoods in this vulnerable economy?
It’s just another case of I have mine to hell with you if you don’t have yours.
They should have accepted the wage freeze.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, layoffs, Middeltown Board of Education, MTEA, NJEA, tax increase

It’s Your Town Newsletter Volumn 2, Issue 6 For 3/15/20


This edition of It’s Your Town Newsletter covers the Middletown Township Committee meeting of March 15, 2010.

This was the meeting in which the members of the Pop Warner Chargers organization introduced their plan to the Mayor and those on the Committee, for the upgrade and expansion of Trezza Field.

It includes all of the ordinances and resolutions that were voted on or discussed by the Township Committee and the 20 page bill list to show Middletown residents how their tax dollars are being spent.

You can download your copy of the newsletter >>> Here

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Filed under bill list, Chargers, Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Pop Warner, resolutions and ordinances

Lincroft Sports Complex Is Dead; Plans For Artificial Turf Fields For Croydon Hall and Lincroft Are Dropped.

At last night’s Middletown Neighborhood Meeting at the Middletown Senior Center at Croydon Hall a very interesting turn of events was announced by Gerry Scharfenberger, the plans for the installation of artificial turf fields in Lincroft and at Croydon Hall are being dropped.

There will be no sports complex built or field upgrades at West Front Street Park that met so much opposition from the residents group SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity and Character) and the Pop Warner Lincroft Chargers organization, and no upgrade for the field at Croydon Hall which is used by the Middletown Eagles Pop Warner team.

According to the Asbury Park Press article posted online late last night, Scharfenberger use the current economic conditions affecting the Township as the reason for why the turf field projects were being dropped. Scharfenberger is quoted as saying:

“…In a difficult budget year in which the township’s state aid has been cut by $1.3 million, 14 retiring employees will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in parting costs, and snow removal expenses were at least $500,000 above normal, it makes no sense to also take on a fields project…I see no way to go forward with this… In terms of what had to go, this became something of a no-brainer.”

The article went on to state that Township Administrator Tony Mercantante said the $2.4 million bond that was originally issued for the project in 2006 will be returned to the lender.

So why the sudden change, why did the Scharfenberger and Mercantante drop the plans for the turf installations? You can’t tell me it was because of the sudden realization that the Township is facing a budget deficit of over $5 million and this was a prudent decision on the part of the Township Committee. The Township has known for weeks that it would not be receiving the same level of state aid as in years past and Scharfenberger, Mercantante and crew said that the $2.4 million that was bonded for the turf projects was already in the bank, waiting to be used and would have absolutely no effect on the current budget process.

I feel that the real reason why they decided to cancel plans for the turf fields was the embarrassment that they felt when confronted at last week’s March 15th Township Committee meeting by members of the Chargers organization and SONIC when they present a plan to the Township that clearly showed that a multi-sport field could indeed be placed at Trezza Field, the home of the Chargers for over 40 years as originally called for in bond ordinance, with no impact to wetlands that the Township based its decision on as a reason for not going ahead with the field upgrade.

If Tony Mercantante accepted the Chargers’ plan, he would have had to admit that the advice from the town’s engineers and other professionals was wrong. He would have had to essentially throw them under the bus, which would have lead to questions of competence and may have raised doubts about other projects around town that residents question.

I know that this announcement will upset some people, particularly the Middletown Soccer League and the Pop Warner Eagles; Middletown Soccer aligned themselves with the Township in pushing for the field upgrades at West Front Street and the Eagles who became the victims of the collateral damage inflicted on members of the Township Committee by SONIC and the Chargers in the fight against the sports complex at West Front Street.

It was never in dispute, the playing field of the Pop Warner Eagles at Croydon Hall was going to be upgraded as a multi-sports playing field as part of the Township’s turf project but Parks and Recreations Director Greg Silva made it clear during at meeting with the Chargers, that if they succeeded in their efforts to derail the West Front Street field upgrade then the upgrade at Croydon Hall would also be canceled as a result. So I guess he wasn’t lying.

While this is a clear victory for SONIC and those who questioned whether or not it was prudent for the Township to move forward with this turf project because of current economic conditions, the victory for the Chargers is somewhat less and not much of a victory at all.

With the bad blood and hurt feeling inflicted on the Township Committee by the Chargers, Trezza Field may never get the field upgrades that are so badly needed for the continued and future success of their program.

The Independent has a related story that should also be read.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Chargers, Lincroft, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Pop Warner, Sonic, sports complex, Tony Mercantante

Audio: Anthony Malone Scolds Pam Brightbill During Public Comments Portion of 3/15/10 Township Committee Meeting

You asked for it and now you have it!

Lincroft resident Anthony Malone scolds Committeewoman Pam Brightbill after she lost her cool while being questioned by Pop Warner Chargers support Jim Cody at last Monday nights Township Committee meeting.

Mr. Malone was very passionate and boisterous during his time at the podium and demanded respect be given to the residents as opposed to Committeewoman Brightbill telling speakers and those in attendance to be respectful of her and her colleagues sitting on the Dias.

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Filed under Middletown Township Committee, Pamela Brightbill, sports complex, Trezza Field