"Dear Mother"
Mother Earth News
1503 SW 42nd Street
Topeka, KS 66609

Harel Barzilai
600 Warren Rd # 10-3A
Ithaca NY 14850
Dear Mother,

Thank you for your beautiful and informative "12 Great Places You've Never Heard Of" story. All the profiles were interesting, but especially gratifying was your feature about Ithaca NY, a very special town to which I've recently returned.

One important correction though: The Ithaca Health Fund is not "health insurance" per se. In fact, IHF was given a bit of a hard time by NY state regulators to make sure it does not accidentally represent itself with that term. Turns out that you need many millions of dollars in the bank to call yourself a health 'insurer'. That said, for only $100/year, the Fund, offers member-owners a wide array of benefits including "grants" to cover many health expenses.

As such, it offers a very attractive and affordable model for many uninsured and under-insured Americans, as well as a democratic, "one member, one vote" grassroots model for community self-help (minutes of meetings and all grants and denials are posted online) In fact, along with other "ordinary" but community-minded Ithacans, I just got elected to the Board of Directors -- though anyone can join one of the committees of the Ithaca Health Alliance (IHA), of which the Fund is a project. Other projects include a recently launched Free Clinic (offering, yes, free medical care, from volunteer MDs, RNs, naturopaths, massage therapists and more!)

What may be of most interest to Mother Earth News readers is that not just Ithacans, but anyone in NY state can join, or IHA (http://www.ithacahealth.org/) will work with you to start a local Health Alliance in your part of NY. For folks outside NY there are other resources to support people interested in starting a similar project in their area; just look up the Health Democracy website (http://www.healthdemocracy.org/).

Keep up the great communitarian reporting, Mother! Thanks,

Harel Barzilai, Ithaca NY.

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P.S. If this is too long for a letter -- or even if you do print my letter as I hope you will -- please consider doing a feature on grassroots health care; see the above two websites; plus in PA PhilaHealthia is a another project (http://www.healthdemocracy.org/philahealthia.html) and CapeCare (http://www.capecare.info/)