WGBH Special Reports

The Supreme Court Ruling: WGBH Analysis

Thursday, June 28, 2012
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June 28, 2012

obama signs health care bill

President Obama signs the health care bill into law at the White House on March 23, 2010. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

BOSTON — The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Here's some of the analysis airing on WGBH radio and television.

> > Complete WGBH coverage of the decision

Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts:
"We're finally going to, I hope, move ahead with decent, affordable health care, especially for working families in this country — unless of course Mitt Romney, who's done his 125th 180 — in this case on health care — gets elected! If he does, then forget it." Listen to Bob Seay's interview with Dukakis on Morning Edition on June 29.

Gruber, Healey, David Kravitz of Blue Mass Group and Tufts professor Dr. Harry Selker talk with Emily Rooney (51 min.)

Jonathan Gruber, MIT economics professor who helped write Massachusetts' health care law, on the significance of upholding the individual mandate:
"The most popular and important part of the law is ending discrimination by insurance companies. No longer allowing insurance companies to deny people insurance or charge them more for insurance just because they're sick. You can't do that piece without the mandate."

Kerry Healey, Mitt Romney's lieutenant governor, on negative public opinion of the act:
"I just think the voters aren't stupid … there's nothing free coming from the government. Someone is paying for it, and that's the taxpayers."

Andrew Dreyfus, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts: 
"I think today's Supreme Court ruling really validates almost a decade's worth of work here in Massachusetts to expand health care for everyone in the country and now all Americans are going to have the same health care benefits and protections that people in Massachusetts have enjoyed for years. So we're excited about the ruling and supportive of it. … Not knowing how the Supreme Court was going to rule created a lot of uncertainty for employers, for health plans like ours, for hospitals and physicians because we really didn't know what the rules were. Now we have a clear message."

Renée Landers, professor at Suffolk Law:
"One of the unanswered questions ... is the extent to which the court has really imposed some greater restrictions on Congress using the power of the Commerce clause to legislate." Landers talks with Bob Seay on Morning Edition on June 29.

Dr. Paula Johnson, chair of the Boston Public Health Commission board, on why the federal law matters here:
"Through the Affordable Care Act we've seen elders getting rebate checks [and] physicians being able to get higher reimbursement rates for primary care ... We've had all the public health dollars that have come into our state ... so it absolutely has been a plus for Massachusetts."

Dr. Vivek Murthy of Brigham and Women's, president of Doctors for America:  
"I think this is a victory for the country, for patients, and it’s also a victory for providers like me who see patients everyday and who realize that many of our patients aren’t getting what they need because they are in a broken system. And this law being upheld gives me hope that we can now have a real shot at fixing the broken system. ...

"In this law, there are a number of provisions including wanting to set up health insurance exchanges like what we have here in Massachusetts which will place downward pressure on premiums because it will promote transparency in terms of pricing and information and also create more competition among insurance companies so that patients have more choice." 

Elizabeth Warren, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate:
"This is really about bringing health care into families in a way that works and starting down the line of trying to bring costs under control. … I think the Democrats are saying we've helped solve a problem. It may not be perfect but we have sure moved in the direction of getting it a lot better."

Arnesen, Whitcomb and Brian Rosman of Health Care for All discuss implications with Callie Crossley (53 min.)

Arnie Arnesen, N.H.–based political commentator:
"This was just an amazing piece of ballet on the part of the chief justice. It was genius. I wish I could have choreographed it."
Robert Whitcomb, editorial page editor of The Providence Journal:
"This is going to enrage people on the right — and they're going to pump vast quantities, even more money, into Romney's campaign."

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, in a statement:
"The federal health care law may be constitutional, but it is wrong for jobs and the economy. In Massachusetts, we had already dealt responsibly with the problem of our uninsured without raising taxes or cutting care to our seniors. All we got out of this massive new federal entitlement is higher taxes, cuts in Medicare and additional debt at a time when we can least afford it. The bottom line for me is this law makes it harder for our economy to add jobs and for that reason I continue to oppose it.”

Kerry Healey for the red and David Kravitz for the blue discuss the ruling's political implications on Greater Boston

SCOTUSblog's Live Feed of the Affordable Care Act Reactions

Thursday, June 28, 2012
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June 28, 2012

The experts at SCOTUSblog give the blow-by-blow of this morning's decision.

Did you miss the president's speech? Watch it online.

WGBH News Coverage of the Health Care Decision

By WGBH News   |   Wednesday, June 27, 2012
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supreme court 28jun12
Television crews prepare at the Supreme Court early on June 28, 2012. (Scott Hensley/NPR)

June 28, 2012

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in a complex ruling. In March, WGBH News followed the case as it was argued with a full week of oral arguments, analysis and features. Today, we have a full day of coverage to help you make sense of the decision.

> > Read the decision (pdf)
> > Consequences of the ruling: WGBH analysis

89.7, 10 a.m.
NPR special coverage

Diane Rehm Show, 11 a.m.
Susan Dentzer, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs, and an on-air analyst on health issues for PBS NewsHour
Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today
Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at The George Washington University; legal affairs editor at The New Republic

Emily Rooney Show, noon
Jonathan Gruber, MIT economist and one of the chief architects of the Affordable Care Act
Kerry Healey, Lt. Gov. of Massachusetts under Mitt Romney
David Kravitz, former clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor 
Dr. Harry P. Selker, head of the Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies

Callie Crossley Show, 1 p.m.
Arnie Arnesen, N.H.–based political commentator
Brian Rosman, Health Care for All
Robert Whitcomb, editorial page editor of The Providence Journal

89.7, 7 p.m.
NPR special coverage

Greater Boston, on WGBH 2 at 7 p.m. and from 7:30 p.m. online
Kerry Healey, Republican analyst and former lieutenant governor
Dr. Paula Johnson, chair of the Boston Public Health Commission board
David Kravitz, co-founder of Blue Mass Group
Renée Landers, Suffolk University law professor and WGBH analyst

June 29, Morning Edition
Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts
Renée Landers

All segments subject to change.

Recent stories

> >  Decision might not mean much in Commonwealth
> >  Renée Landers discusses the possible outcomes

Planet Takeout: Dinner, and a Cultural Crossroads

By Val Wang   |   Wednesday, May 23, 2012
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May 24, 2012

planet takeout logo


BOSTON — Sometimes the best way to find the flavor of where we live is … through a restaurant.
Not the fancy places people cross the region to see. The humble spots where people stop and get something to go — and in the process, have conversations across the counter that make life a little bit more human.

WGBH News' Val Wang is spending the next 6 months documenting these for her project "Planet Takeout": a look at Chinese food, our neighborhoods and ourselves.
Wherever you go, there they are
Every neighborhood in Boston has at least one. In the heart of Roxbury there’s Peking House in an old Church’s Chicken building. In Dorchester, Yum Yum stands shoulder-to-shoulder with nail salons and Irish bars. Jamaica Plain has Food Wall and Charlie Chan’s. They are among the almost 10,000 Chinese takeouts that dot the country, preparing more than 2 million meals every day.
Ever since I’ve lived in big American cities, first New York and now Boston, no place has fascinated me as much as the local Chinese takeout. Each is deeply a part of their neighborhood but also somewhat separate. The people who work there come from halfway around the world to serve Americanized Chinese food to people of every color. Those on both sides of the counter have to meet each other halfway, often at a bulletproof window.
This cultural crossroad teems with stories. I think of the humble takeout as a lens through which we can see both the tightly knit local neighborhoods of Boston and global immigration patterns to the city. And most importantly, we can see how the two fit together.
One restaurateur's journey
Tom Chen was born in Hong Kong. After a decade of working in Chinese restaurants he bought his own takeout in Chelsea, Mass., called Dragon Kitchen. He ran it for a decade.
Most of his customers were Latino. He said they tended to order three dishes: lobster sauce, shrimp fried rice and chicken wings. Every week, he sold 400 pounds of chicken wings. And because he had to adapt to his customers, he learned basic Spanish. Shrimp fried rice became arroz con camarones. Chicken wings, alas de pollo. And lobster sauce was salsa langosta.
Chen said he didn't know much Spanish beyond what he needed for the job, “but I try to make a living. So everybody will adjust yourself.”
It wasn’t easy running a takeout: mastering simple Spanish, learning the names of his regular customers and, on two life-threatening occasions, getting held up at gunpoint. But it was a big step up from bartending, his previous job. 
While most restaurant profits hover around 40 percent, Chen said Dragon Kitchen cleared 60 percent.
“The takeout restaurant basically is work hard, long hours. You can make a better income. Buy materials by myself, then we cook it, we prepare. Just four people, work close together. I see co-workers more than my wife. The kids, I never saw my kids. The kids go to school at 7 o’clock, get back at 9, we’re still working,” said Chen.

He sold his takeout 10 years ago and bought a more upscale sit-down restaurant in Needham called Mandarin Cuisine.
A tight-knit world
Talking to Chen may seem easy, but in my experience, it’s difficult to walk in the front door of a takeout asking to interview workers and customers. He only opened up because I met him through Helen Chin Schlichte — or "Auntie Helen," as everyone in the Chinese immigrant community calls her. A native of Charlestown, she is very active both in Chinatown and in the city at large. Auntie Helen immediately understood my predicament.
“Even though you’re very Chinese and you can speak fluent Mandarin, they’re not quite sure if you’re from the IRS, or from Homeland Security," she said. "There are all kinds of reasons that they might be a little wary until somebody comes along to say, ‘Okay, this is a great project. This is one that would be terrific for you to participate in and for you to be a part of this larger community of takeout restaurants, and it’s okay to talk to her."
I asked Chen what he would have said if I’d come in the door of his old Chelsea takeout asking to interview him. “No,” he responded simply. “I say, ‘Nope, you kidding me?’ Eighty percent, or 90 percent, close the door for you. I already know that. First thing, they don’t know you" — and if they don't know you, they don't know why they'd do you a favor.
Furthermore, Chen said, "Most Chinese people don’t like [to] talk in public. They need to close everything in their mind. They’re not open. Even your father, your mother, won’t open anything for you, right?"
When asked for his explanation of that dynamic, Chen responded, "That’s the way we brought up. Like, why we eat rice?”
I started to wonder about the underlying social structures that hold the community together — and keep outsiders at a distance. So I called Baruch College professor Ken Guest, an anthropologist who studies Chinese immigrant communities living in New York.
“The Chinese restaurants are deeply embedded in an ethnic economy. And there is a sense of ethnic solidarity that people draw on to make a go of it. There’s a way in which that economic framework also shapes some of their notions of how they are in American culture, where they fit. It frames a lot of their business and social networks,” he said.
Getting connected
Networks were the key word here.
“Get somebody know somebody," Chen summarized. "From the back, not from the front. You walk in the front, you don’t get any answer. They will tell you they’re busy. No. Thank you. That’s it. Get somebody behind the owner. If you not Helen Chin introduce you, you won’t be sitting here. I tell the truth.”
It’s good advice. I found I had to work through existing networks — social service agencies, civic groups, food suppliers, menu printers, academics, filmmakers, hoping someone could introduce me to someone else who could get me in that proverbial back door.

Ways to share your Planet Takeout story
- Call 617 477-8688
- Listen or upload audio on Soundcloud
- Connect on Facebook or Twitter
- Upload photos to Flickr

But the project also needs the other half of the story: your half.
I found Philip Lodge, 17, at Yum Yum in Dorchester after school, waiting for his takeout order.
“Well, I got hungry after I left school, so I just had to eat a little meal before I go home," he explained. "A $2 plate of rice and ribs and I added crab Rangoon, fried shrimp and chicken teriyaki."
And it's not a rare visit. "I come like three times a week. My mom told me that their food was good so I started ordering my own plates, and I liked it," he said.
I bet you’ve probably been to a Chinese takeout before — you might even be a regular at one. Or maybe you went to one with your family growing up. If so, I want to hear your story.
If you have a story about a Chinese takeout, give Val and Planet Takeout a call at 617 477-8688. It's a free call in the Boston area, and the recording will explain what to do. You can also leave a story, upload photos or listen to others' stories at planettakeout.org.

Val Wang Talks About Planet Takeout

By Val Wang & Bob Seay   |   Wednesday, May 23, 2012
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May 23, 2012

BOSTON — Thursday is the first installment of Planet Takeout, Val Wang's exploration into Boston Chinese takeout joints as a nexus of community. She talks to Bob Seay about how she got the idea for the project. To share your experiences with Chinese takeout, visit planettakeout.org.

Planet Takeout is produced by Val Wang and brought to you by WGBH 89.7 and Localore, a national initiative of the Association for Independents in Radio.

val wang

Val Wang interviews John Chan at Yum Yum on Dot Ave. (Kelly Creedon)

Attorney General Calls for Change to Open Meeting Law

By Danielle Dreilinger   |   Monday, May 14, 2012
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May 14, 2012

state integrity logo

BOSTON — On Monday, Attorney General Martha Coakley called for an amendment to the state's open meeting law. The need for change comes as no surprise to those who have followed the State Integrity Investigation, a nationwide look at corruption risk.

Massachusetts flunked the "public access to information" category on the SII report card. Investigators found that while citizens have a legally enshrined right to government information and records, in practice those rights are hard to access. The state earned a C overall, placing it 11th in the nation for corruption risk.

"The amendment would clarify the standard for a finding by the AG of an intentional violation of the Open Meeting Law," Coakley said in a statement.
The current law states that a violation is considered "intentional" if it occurs after the official or governmental body has been given a warning by a court or prosecutor. Coakley's change would add situations where the board or member "acted with specific intent to violate the law" or "with deliberate ignorance of the law’s requirements."

The Massachusetts Legislature is exempt from the open meeting law.
The attorney general's office plans to hold a public hearing on the regulation in July.
> > READ: The AG's press release

The State Integrity report card is tabulated from the results of 330 questions. Click on each topic area to see the specific questions and scores pertaining to each.

About the Authors
The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 
Danielle Dreilinger Danielle Dreilinger
Danielle Dreilinger is an author and news producer for WGBH.org.


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