The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Monday, March 28, 2011

Politics and Ethics: A Heady Brew

A few days ago, I made a comment to try to offer a bit of clarification regarding another commenter's statement about Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center on the "lack of support for the hospital from insured consumers."  I have been asked to clarify my own remarks since making that comment, so I am posting them here, on my own blog. I was noting what was widely known among many in town--that it wasn't that insured folks didn't support the hospital; rather, it was Solaris steering some people toward its other facility, depending on the quality of their insurance. 

I suggested that Solaris was culpable--not the Plainfield residents who certainly preferred Muhlenberg to going to another facility much farther away. Plainfielders and those in the area ALL supported Muhlenberg--indeed, it was known as one of the best facilities in the state. The "lack of support" for our hospital came from weak-willed politicians at the county and state level (including Gov. Corzine), NOT from the people of Plainfield, Scotch Plains, North Plainfield, South Plainfield, and the rest of the Tri-County area served by this regional medical center. I truly believe that immediate intervention--extreme pressure--could have stopped the closing of the hospital. Instead of blaming "indigent care" and "illegals" for the debt shortfall, the complicity of Solaris's highly-paid executives (along with insurance entities), in the hospital's closing was never really examined in-depth until it was too late. We all know the human cost of this complicity.

In one of my comments, I also stated that it was my view that medical care should be free. For expressing a philosophical/ethical viewpoint, my position was called "fiscally irresponsible." How expressing this view would make someone who knows nothing about my finances categorize it that way is insulting. To conflate my (perhaps Utopian) ideal with the suggestion that I possess no real-world sensibilities (indeed--my position being fiscally irresponsible) is unnecessarily belittling.  I don't know that that was the intention, but the tone seemed patronizing.

Part of my raison d'etre on the Plainfield City Council is to be a watchdog for the city's spending which, in my view, needs to be scrutinized very carefully. I think that, by my votes thus far, I have demonstrated that I am putting the people of Plainfield first.  I take the budget responsibility very seriously.

I would say, however, that my desire for a society where no one would have to pay for his or her basic medical needs is one that I think I will keep. 

All best,



  1. Rebecca,Unfortunately you are wrong in absolving the community from blame. Long before the hospitals BOG initiated the ill advised union with Solaris it was having fiscal problems in a large part due to the number of area residents who could not tolerate the idea of sharing a room with a person of color. These biased individuals indiscriminately equated skin pigment with the dregs of humanity, and would go to other hospitals where the ethnic mix was different. Many would have been considered the pillars of society but such bigotry extended to the blue collar population.

    Don't discount the impact that prejudice had on the fiscal problems of the hospital. It was the national excellence of certain services among them the Colon-rectal and Cardiology that focused their practice in Muhlenberg that brought those patients to the hospital.

    One of our present dangers is that reverse racism which may be present and has surfaced at times at the Council will destroy an attempts to revive Plainfield.

    Those that profess the equality of "man" unfortunately all to frequently do not practice it.

    Your comments are always welcomed and contin e to be your own person.

  2. Thank you Rebecca. As one person who has a college degree and works three part-time jobs to pay my bills and has no health insurance, I share your goal that everyone be able to recieve healthcare. I found out that at a recent emergency room visit where I was fearful of a heart problem, that I was fine, just anxiety. If it was a real heart problem, I would have had to wait until I was having a heart attack for the emergency room to be able to help me with my heart problem. I wish our politicians could all be in that position to make them more responsive.

    Thank you for making sure our money isn't being wasted and making sure people are held responsible for the poor decisions they have made and are making for the people of Plainfield.

  3. In Union County, Politics and Ethics are total strangers to one another!
    My guess is that there a few politicians who could have stopped the hospital closing but were more interested in monetary gain than for themselves than in this community we live in! And the others just stood by and did and said nothing!
    Kissinger had it right when he said that the corrupt politicians make the other 10% look bad!

  4. For what it's worth . . . of all the elected officials in Plainfield, I might not agree with all you say, but I do belive you are honest as the day is long! Character and integrity you definitely do not lack!

  5. To the Anonymous Commenter: It was on Rucker's blog. I took umbrage at him calling my philosophical position "fiscally irresponsible." I responded with a comment at which I stated that I was offended--he did not post my follow-up comment, for whatever reason--you have to ask him why not--he certainly is free to post whatever comments he deems relevant--he is also free to reject commentary that he doesn't want on his blog.

    That is why I decided to clarify it with my own blog post, adding a bit more as well.

    Part of my philosophical stance has to do with the tremendous suffering I have witnessed in my own family, as well as in others, regarding access to medical care and the attendant catastrophic financial difficulties.

    All best,