30 March 2008

Insurance Parity

"If mental illness never ends, which is typically the case, how do you set a standard for coverage equal to that for physical ailments, many of which do end?" A completely misleading comparison from a New York Times article on the push for requiring health insurance companies to cover mental and physical illnesses equivalently: that is, without setting higher co-pays or lower total coverage limits for mental illness. Misleading because plenty of physical ailments are chronic, meaning they can't be cured but can only be treated for the rest of the patient's lifetime: diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, to name just a very few.

But the real lack of parity?

The millions of Americans who have no insurance at all: because they cobble together part time or freelance jobs whose employers aren't required to cover them, or because they're between jobs, or because they've started a new job with a waiting period before insurance coverage begins (a particular problem in the case of "pre-existing conditions," on which insurers often set longer limits before coverage under a new policy can begin).

29 March 2008

Pedestrian ... safety?

The New Jersey Department of Transportation web site includes a section claiming that the organization "has made pedestrian safety a top priority." Under "Contacts," there's an email address where readers are encouraged to write for more information.

However the message bounced back with a notification that the address no longer exists. Does this mean that the NJ DOT has given up on pedestrian (and bicycle) safety?


Dear Pedestrian and Bicycle Program Coordinator,

Because I try to avoid driving all the time, I’ve walked on various occasions between Monmouth University (where I work) and places like the Elberon and Long Branch train stations as well as area businesses.

Sidewalks in the area are frequently damaged or non-existent, but worse, the place where they should be is often blocked by a hedge, forcing a pedestrian into the street.

I’ve been on the NJ Department of Transportation web site trying to find out if any state or federal law requires the construction or maintenance of sidewalks within towns, but found information only about snow removal. Is there any law requiring sidewalk construction and/or maintenance of sidewalks in towns or along any particular kind of streets and roads in the state? If so, who is in charge of enforcement? If not, to whom would I write to ask that the law be changed?

Thank you for your time.

Heide Estes


If this blog has a reader, maybe you can make some suggestions.