Author Archives: Suzanne

Pratt Faculty Potentially Lose Hundreds of Doctors and Several Major Hospitals

Dear Pratt colleagues,

The UFCT would like to submit the following letter, inclusive of all faculty and administrators covered by AETNA, to AETNA expressing our displeasure at their failed negotiations with Continuum.  If you would like to have your name added to the letter, please reply with your full name and title to Suzanne Verderber, UFCT 1460 Vice President, at, by July 14, 2010.


The UFCT 1460 Executive Committee and Grievance Team.

Ronald A. Williams

Chairman and Chief Executive, Aetna Inc.

Hartford, CT 06156

June 26, 2010

Dear Mr. Williams,

We the undersigned are faculty members and administrators at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. The Pratt administration has chosen to subscribe to Aetna for health coverage, a situation over which we, the undersigned, have minimal control.

We were shocked and dismayed to receive notification from our Human Resources office on June 16, 2010 that Aetna and Continuum failed to renew their contract over the issue of reimbursement rates, directly affecting most of us who have, over the years, established relationships with physicians at the various major hospitals in our area that are now “out of network”: Beth Israel, Long Island College Hospital, Saint Luke’s, and New York Ear and Eye Infirmary. As medical consumers, we have been told time and time again that the most effective medical care can be achieved by establishing relationships with our doctors so that valuable time and money is not wasted bringing new doctors up to speed on our conditions,and so that our doctors gain, over time, a more accurate overview of our health. Unfortunately, this event seems to be a culmination of a long-term trend wherein doctor after doctor finds that it is no longer “worth it” to be part of Aetna’s network because Aetna’s reimbursement rates are so low.

We find it callous and irresponsible that Aetna has chosen to destroy these relationships between doctor and patient due to its refusal to meet the reimbursement demands of the medical practitioners who are part of Continuum, disrupting the medical care of thousands in the New York area. Aetna’s own website states that its 2009 revenue was a shocking 39.679 billion dollars. Surely Aetna does not stand to suffer too much from reimbursing doctors at a reasonable level, as other insurance companies who deal with Continuum have managed to do.   We find it surprising that Aetna, a company that claims in its mission statement to be dedicated to helping people achieve “health and financial security” would cause us to lose access to our doctors, or to simply pay more by going out of network. Do you, Mr. Williams, have to go “out of network” to see the doctors of your choice? We wonder whether you are affected personally by this event.

As it stands, in the eyes of many of your customers who have little direct say over their patronage of Aetna, your company appears callous, unreasonable, and unconcerned with the health care of its customers. We will be sure to express these views to the decision-makers at our institution and make them public to the media.


Bloomberg Will Cut 6,700 Teachers

He says he will get tougher on unions, giving lower wage increases and asking for changes in health benefits and pensions.

June 3, 2010 UPDATE: Bloomberg says he will freeze raises to save 4,400 jobs, but unions say he does not have the right to make this move unilaterally; Bloomberg says he does because both teachers’ and principals’ unions are working under expired contracts.  Here is the NY Times article.

Capitalism Gets Investigated

Criminal probe opened to find whether mine inspectors received bribes in West Virginia.

Criminal probe opened to find whether Goldman Sachs committed fraud in shorting the mortgage market while encouraging their clients to buy long.

New offshore drilling projects halted after massive disaster in the Gulf.

UPDATE: If pipe collapses, there will be no way of containing it; it is a gusher, not a “spill”: likely to enter the Gulf Stream and head up the East Coast.

UPDATE: Hallibuton investigated for shoddy plumbing job; had sealed well with cement 20 hours before explosion.

Key NYC community hospital goes bankrupt and closes its doors after 150 years.

Rosa Luxemburg makes the cogent point that capitalism is not opposed to anarchy and anarchists: rather, she says, capitalism PRODUCES anarchy: “The terrible sufferings of the working class, the insecurity of people’s existence, exploitation, the distance between rich and poor.”  Add to that global war with no end in sight, environmental disaster, contaminated food and water, declining wages, a failed health delivery system, and an emaciated educational system, facing insupportable budget cuts.  At what point do the internal contradictions of the capitalist system become too much for the system itself to bear?  May Day seems to be a fine moment to reflect on this question.