Alvin Bragg, we learned recently, is the New York State Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice. This is the person, I discovered, thanks to a friend who alertly picked up a news release during a press conference with the Attorney General, to whom my October 2017 letter to the A.G. should have been addressed. I’ve been writing “Alvin Bragg” periodically in my notebook, going back a few months, intending to write a futile cover letter to him. Figured I’d give it a shot here, on a slow day. I’ll have to strike just the right tone.
Dear Mr. Executive Deputy Attorney General:
(if that is your fucking name)
Enclosed please find my correspondence with your office. I naively sent the Attorney General a letter recommending actions the state should take to protect the rights of low income health insurance consumers. Mr. Schneiderman never saw that letter, a letter that should have been addressed to you, I learned from the organizational tree in one of the A.G.’s press releases.
My letter details some of the systemic abuses of the private insurance health system, and the lack of any state oversight available to consumers, outside of a desk in your office, and proposes actions that your office could advocate for. It was not a consumer complaint seeking redress of a particular grievance, though it was treated as one by your office.
Enclosed are the two responses I had from your office’s Health Care Bureau. Neither one is responsive to the letter I wrote, except that the second one attempts to be helpful by suggesting I’m a consumer, like many, who is unaware of the powers of the Health Care Bureau in the A.G.’s office.
My October letter, and this one, fall into the category of “in a more just world letters like this wouldn’t have to be written at all”. My letter to the A.G. was in part a cry of anguish from somebody with a limited income stuck in a bureaucratic quagmire with limited options for getting treatment for an eventually fatal disease. The PPACA, as anyone who is subject to it quickly learns, is a very flawed solution to the vast institutional problem of providing affordable health care to millions while preserving the profits of private insurance companies and private health care providers.
I am well aware that people with a limited income have only so much right to be heard on even the most vexing institutional injustices: like the three to six month lag between a medical procedure and Explanation of Benefits, with the inevitable multiple bills and collection notices that accrue in that time frame. Or that past EOBs, even with the assistance of a diligent attorney from the Community Service Society, and all required legal documents signed, were never provided at all by the insurance company. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike from begging, sleeping under bridges and stealing a loaf of bread.”
Ah, listen, Alvin, I don’t know what I really hope to accomplish with this note to you. What outcome am I hoping for? A paragraph apologizing for the poor response from your overworked consumer help desk, sympathizing with the situation I describe in my letter, assuring me that the activist A.G. of New York is doing everything in his power to address some of the institutional vexations set out in my long letter. Strength to your arm, friend, dictating that paragraph to your secretary.
My best to you and your staff,