There were 29 club members present at the meeting. The guests were Bridget Murphy from the WCH and Jessie Butler, wife of our speaker. Chuck Norton gave the “thought of the day” about the meaning of the word “Thanksgiving”.
Patti took a survey of those members planning on attending our December 22 and/or 29 meetings because of the holidays. Based on the tally, it was decided to have a regular meeting on both days.
ANNOUNCEMENTS:  Rich Lalley announced that our Operation Warm project raised over $11,500 which bought over 800 coats for needy youngsters. Among the recipients of these coats were kids associated with the Asian Youth Services, the Glenview-Northbrook Youth Services, and the InterCity Impact program in Cicero.  It was announced that the local League of Women Voters is having a State of the Villages Forum from 2:30-5:00 on December 1 at the Kenilworth Union Church, at which the Village Managers and Village Presidents from Winnetka, Northfield and Kenilworth will discuss the “state” of their respective villages. At this event will be a “holiday collection” to benefit the New Trier and Northfield Food Pantries. Connie Berman announced that the Private Bank facility in Winnetka will have a complimentary paper shredding event on Saturday, November 19.
HAPPY BUCKS; Barb Tubekis contributed in gratitude of all the “ love, friendship and giving”  she has experienced from the volunteers working on the Good News Partners post-Thanksgiving food project where over $1240 was collected to buy about 60 bags of food which will be delivered on Thanksgiving. She explained the GNP has rehabbed 11 buildings in Evanston/Rogers Park where it provides families housing and food until they can “get on their feet”. Currently about 165 families are being served.  Barb said that part of her gratitude was also for her friends who consoled her during the recent loss of her family dog.
Tom Nash handled “dig n grin” with some pilgrim/turkey riddles.
SPEAKER:  PETER BUTLER (former President of Rush University Medical Center and now its Chairman of the Department of Health Systems Management) and Winnetka resident.
David Birkenstein introduced our speaker and his wife, Jessie.  Peter said that Obamacare had more parts that worked than failed. He said that there has been greater access to medical services and at a lower cost. Before the program, this country had 16% of our population uninsured and now that is down to 8%.  22 million people were able to obtain insurance coverage with half gaining access to Medicaid and the other half getting insurance on the insurance exchanges. In Illinois, ¼ of our population is on Medicaid. If a household’s income is below $97,000 a year, it will receive subsidies and 80% of those buying insurance from the exchanges are getting subsidized. Recently, the average annual increase in insurance purchased through the exchanges was about 25% and it was considerably higher in individual states—Illinois exchanges experienced a 40% increase. The current annual penalty for someone who does not obtain insurance is $695. Peter said that the exchanges’ financial troubles were because not enough healthy people bought insurance, but paid the penalty instead. Regarding some of the recent changes being suggested for Obamacare—he said the pre-existing condition and the no life time maximums will most likely stay. But he said if the individual mandate is removed that the cost of the overall program will increase substantially. He said that the insurance companies thought Obamacare was going to benefit them greatly, but that hasn’t been the case. To add to the problem, the Department of HHS drafted very restrictive regulations regarding the law that was going to reimburse these companies for losses and much of the anticipated reimbursement did not occur. He thinks that the guaranteed benefit package under the Obamacare plans will be reduced as a cost saving measure. He said that people under employer plans haven’t suffered as much as the self-employed/independent contractors who have experienced huge increases in premiums and deductibles and that most of the major hospitals are no longer participating in these programs which, in Illinois, are only available through Blue Cross. One advantage of going to a single payer system is that the administrative cost of a government-run insurance program  would probably be less than the insurance companies charge—he gave as an example Medicare having only a 3-4% administrative charge, versus 5 times that for private carriers. He said the exchanges are in such bad shape that we have to find a way to get people to use them or get rid of them. (There were a few comments from the audience about their experiences with changes in their health insurance coverage and cost.)