Last month, Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (RICFP), a nonpartisan free-market research and advocacy organization, released its 2019 Freedom Index and Legislator Scorecard for the General Assembly. In the Oct. 15 Providence Journal “My Turn” commentary column, Stenhouse reported that only 12 of 113 Rhode Island lawmakers scored above zero. Failing dismally to fulfill their promises to help everyday Rhode Islanders, these results show total vilification of individual and economic rights by our elected legislators. Two laws passed during the 2019 legislative session I found particularly egregious.
In December 2017, there was a notable revision to the state Finance Committee’s proposed Pawtucket Red Sox Stadium bill: elimination of a provision that would have given Pawtucket new powers to seize private property by eminent domain for economic redevelopment purposes. Tragic but true, on the final night of the 2019 session, the House, by a vote of 52-8, and the Senate by a vote of 28-4, approved giving the city new tools to finance development and take private property by eminent domain. “I don’t think you should take private property and hand it over to some redevelopment agency to fill their coffers,” said Rep. Blake Filippi. So, why does the tally show he voted in favor of the bill?
This precedent-setting device, now on the books, will simply entice other towns and cities to get on the bandwagon to spur redevelopment in their municipalities. The losers, as usual, are Rhode Islanders who may well find that their beloved patch of paradise now abuts some out-of-town developer’s box store. Adding insult to injury, the new legislation allows a municipality or developer to redevelop private property without having to pay the presently required 150% of the market value or relocation expenses. These are the hypocritical creeps you elected who promised to maintain your best interests.
To the question of why should the rules for land-taking be any different for Pawtucket than for the other 37 cities and towns in the state, Rep. Phillipe Barros’ snarky response was, because, “Everybody else didn’t ask for it!” I have news for you, representative, they will now!
Until three months ago, I was totally clueless about all things medical. I really can’t remember the last time I crossed a doctor’s or hospital’s threshold, or swallowed a pill for that matter. I do recall when you made an appointment to see a doctor you saw him/her and were sent on your way with a diagnosis. When you received the bill, it included some deductible plus 20% of the total bill, with the insurance company paying the balance. Not today, I discovered. Even before seeing the doctor, you must hand over your co-pay upon entering his/her office (“We’ll be happy to reschedule your appointment if you don’t have your co-pay and insurance cards.) You’re ushered to an examining room and gone over by a medical associate, not the doctor you’ve made an appointment to see. He/she makes the call on whether you’ll see the doctor today or be sent home with medication or elsewhere for tests, then to make an appointment. A week later you’re back, co-pay in hand but not sure if you’ve met the criteria to be seen by the physician you’ve made the appointment with. And so it goes ....
I began to wonder if newly enacted medical laws might have something to do with my not seeing the doctor. Was I one of those whose rights of freedom of association had been quashed when the state “individual mandate” went into effect? Is this a penalty tax for those who do not buy the specific health insurance that our state government demands, even though the federal government repealed its version of this tax in 2017. For sure I‘m guilty of not knowing what I have, what to keep and what to deep-six because of the reams of medical notices, letters, policy changes, etc. that arrive daily. Was the DO NO HARM mantra that physicians were obligated to swear by deep-sixed as well?
Another stunner just enacted: a law that forces medical providers to hand over your personal medical data to the state without your permission! So it can monitor whether or not you are undertaking procedures that the government wants you to take. And you thought the legislators we voted for were looking out for our best interests.
When my time comes, I may no longer be sucking up more than my share of the resources, but I’m damned sure I won’t be living on a pauper’s budget handing over co-pays for a doctor I’ve yet to see.
Hatsy H. Moore