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Daisy Kelliher Interview: Below Deck Sailing Yacht

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Daisy Kelliher from Below Deck Sailing Yacht has had quite a season and she’s sharing information about her experiences in this exclusive ScreenRant interview. She was the chief stew for interesting guests. She was also part of a crew made up of people with vastly different personalities and skillsets. These factors made for an epic adventure through Croatia. There was plenty of romantic drama, as well as complaints about the entertainment. Due to iconic charter guests (the Drewitt-Barlows had some fascinating stories) and hookups among the crew, no one ever got bored. The viewers enjoyed every twist and turn, including the lack of a cotton candy machine, which caused problems.

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Following an exciting time in her life, Daisy was gracious enough to sit down with ScreenRant and talk about her onboard experiences. She provided some juicy insights about her fellow cast members. Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 2 features a lot of charismatic crew members, from the very experienced Captain Glenn Shephard to the now-pregnant Dani Soares and beyond, so Daisy had plenty to weigh in on. She opened up in a way that the show’s fans will love.

Related: Below Deck: Dani Soares Announces Pregnancy With First Child

What’s been the most exciting thing about being part of the Below Deck crew for you?

Daisy Kelliher: I’ve been lucky enough to meet some celebrities, which is always really cool. That’s very fun. I mean, the most exciting thing? It’s hard to say because when you’re doing your job as a journalist or whatever, it’s just your job. It’s hard to get caught up in the excitement.

Lucky enough, I’ve never had any crazy things, like fires. Hitting the dock on the Parsifal, as you see in the trailer, was pretty hectic. But I’ve gotten lucky enough to meet some celebrities, and just getting to travel the world.

I’m turning up in countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand; I’ve gotten to sail through Indonesia. Things like that were pretty cool and pretty exciting. Or French Polynesia. To see such beautiful parts of the world, and on a boat, so we get to go so remote. I think that’s probably been the most exciting thing for me.

I could only imagine. I’d love to go to Indonesia.

Daisy Kelliher: Yeah, it was very cool. I’d done French Polynesia, and we turned up in Indonesia. To my captain, I was like, “I think this is more beautiful than French Polynesia.” He was like, “What?!” and I said, “Yeah, I think it might be more beautiful.” It was amazing.

The most recent guests were the Drewitt-Barlows, and kudos to you for how you conducted yourself. You were very professional. They were quite an unusual family with a unique backstory. What were your thoughts on the Drewitt-Barlows as guests?

Daisy Kelliher: Yeah, it was a tough trip. It was definitely, I think, our worst charter as a team. They definitely had us on our toes. 

As a family, they were great. I know they’re a bit controversial and a bit different, but the main thing is that there was a lot of love among the family, which I thought was very cool. For me, that’s the most important thing about a family – having love. It doesn’t matter what the kind of dynamics are. Everyone was super sweet. 

Barrie himself was a little bit tougher. You don’t get to see a lot in the show about what kind of obstacles we did have to face. When I’m asking the boys for help, it wasn’t just like, “Oh, I need help. We’re really busy.” You don’t get to get to see it, but we we’re swamped. The amount of drinks they were asking for – and they wouldn’t drink them in bottles, which for me is unusual. Most people I work for are like, “We’re drinking beer all day, we’ll just have it out of the bottle,” which might seem very super yacht-y, but you’re sailing and trying to do water sports and all these things. 

That’s why on sailboats, they’re a bit more relaxed, because we just don’t have the manpower. That’s why I was so desperate to get help, because we just couldn’t keep up with the demand. I kind of think that they were just more suited to a cruise ship. They have all the entertainment, all the manpower, and all the different types of foods. Yes, we are a superyacht, but we do one thing and we do it amazingly. Whereas, they wanted several different aspects, which was just too hard to keep up with. 

But it was a fun charter. They were really sweet, even though it didn’t come across. It was just that we struggled a bit as a team, and it was very challenging. But I think it put the pressure on us to do better. So, it was fine. We were cool with it.

You and Natasha de Bourg have emphasized that you’re both strong-willed and disagree sometimes, but work as a team when the going gets tough. Can you tell us more about that?

Daisy Kelliher: I didn’t really understand it before, but now that we are getting to reflect back on it as we’re getting to watch the show, she explained to me that she was just really defensive. We both were – I was convinced she was willing to work against me, and she was convinced I hated her. But we obviously both take our jobs very seriously, and that was our main priority. 

I think it’s a weird thing, being able to reflect back on our work now. But there was definitely a lack of communication, and more importantly, a lack of trust. I think we didn’t have confidence in each other. But we’re good friends, and I think that shows how much trust [you need]. People will talk about communication, but after coming out of this experience, I actually think trust is very important as well. You need to trust your team and say, “This is what we need to do,” or have confidence in them. 

It was definitely a learning curve for both of us. I think we both did a great job, but it definitely wasn’t easy. I definitely had a few sleepless nights over it.

One of the highlights talked about was the $15,000 tip. During the show, you and Natasha discussed if it was possibly due to her being unable to deliver. Do you still believe that? It’s perfectly fine if you want to skip this question because I know that you and Natasha are friends.

Daisy Kelliher: No, I often tell her that she made my life very difficult. I don’t mind answering it. I think it was a bit of both. I know for a fact, from a lot of what you don’t see, by Barrie’s comments about the kitchen standards or the galley sounds or whatever you want to talk about. 

During the show, or during the charter, it was definitely Natasha’s massive downfall. She will say it herself, though. At the end of the trip, she was like, “That was my worst trip.” It was evident this wasn’t something you could sugarcoat; she was quite clearly flustered. Barrie also tweeted, and he mentioned me and Dani, and that we saved the tip. 

I will say I think it was predominantly Natasha and I think she will agree. But I do think that collectively, we all had a hand to play in it. You can see mainly Natasha’s down points, but the whole team was flustered throughout that charter. Like I said, I was really frustrated. I went to bed that night crying. I think it was on the first night that I went to bed crying, because we just struggled so much. We were so overwhelmed. I was clashing with Natasha and Gary big time, and it was a disaster. 

So yes, I will still stand by that: it was mainly Natasha. But we weren’t far behind, so we were going to get a sh*t tip anyway.

You and Gary often butted heads, such as when you asked for help with the glasses. What was your reaction when he said he didn’t have time to assist?

Daisy Kelliher: Yeah, it was a little bit of noise. I don’t have a problem with Gary at all, but I did get frustrated. During the charter, I felt like he was pushing against me. And it was, again, a kind of gaslighting culture. I was like, “Am I crazy? Is this in my head?” 

And now getting to watch it back and reflect on it, it’s like, “No, you very evidently didn’t want to help me. Cleary, you had an issue with me or the interior or with teamwork.” I’m not quite sure where the issue lied, but in my GFN, it’s very obvious that there was a lack of teamwork there. I think he did have the time and the resources. I think it’s obvious by what we’ve been able to reflect on; I felt at the time that maybe he’s more used to a team where it is more departmentalized and you don’t help each other out. 

But I have never worked in a team like that, in nine years of yachting. It was a struggle, and it made a massive difference when they did help. And not just, as it looks like in the show, “Oh, we got more downtime.” That was not the case at all. It was just better. 

My girls get their breaks no matter what, because it’s important. It’s important for safety mainly, and it’s important for crew morale; it’s important for the level of service we’re able to provide. So, it didn’t matter how busy we were. I was always going to make sure that at some stage, they got some sort of shower or were able to eat dinner. Sometimes if I was able to get them a nap, I would do that. And I definitely always gave them their eight hours at night. 

But it was just the level of service and the lack of fluster. The guests can see it; they can pick up on when I’m agitated or when I’m running around. But when I’m able to talk to them, they love that. They love when you can flirt with them, and when you can laugh with them. They love to get to know you. And when that crew are helping downstairs, it looks like I’m [goofing off], but I’m not. The tip is working; the more time we get to spend with the guests, and they get to know us, the bigger our tip is. 

Yeah, I was a bit upset with Gary when he said that. But it also confirmed my suspicions, so I was also happy.

Vindication is very important. Considering how Alli, Gary, and Sydney hooked up, how did you feel about the whole skinny dipping incident and having to comfort Sydney about her feelings for Gary?

Daisy Kelliher: Yeah, I actually messaged Gary apologizing. I didn’t really care that drama was caused. Drama kind of distracts away from day-to-day life; it would be boring if all you did was work. So, I’m okay living vicariously through the other crew. But it got a little bit boring by the end, because it was like, “Okay, seriously, none of you are gonna end up together.” 

But I thought Gary was leading on Sydney. He kept denying us, but I thought he was just being a typical f*ckboi or whatever. Because I’ve had that treatment before, where they’re like, “Oh, that girl’s crazy. Like, she’s really into me.” And I’m like, “Well, no. You clearly were flirting with me.” So, I did believe Sydney, and I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Now I actually feel really guilty about it, because I actually think Sydney was quite inappropriate and stepping out of bounds, and I think Gary made it very clear. 

I feel a little bit bad for not believing Gary, and for assuming the worst. But I don’t know how I feel about the whole thing. It was quite draining, and it was hard to watch the whole thing.

You mentioned that eight to nine hours is very important for the crew members. How did the “throuple” (as one episode title called it) affect the girls and Gary due to the drinking and the late nights?

Daisy Kelliher: With the drinking and the late nights, that’s their own time. The problem with boats is that we give so much of our life to our owners and our captains, so some boat owners and some boat captains are like, “We own you, and everything you do, we have a say on.” 

I personally don’t run my department like that, and I don’t like to work with captains or owners who run their department like that. When it comes to time off, for me, you can do what you want. Apart from the COVID thing, because we have to stay in our bubble, your free time is your free time. I’m not going to intervene in that, as long as you’re able to perform to the level that we expect during work hours, then whenever. Have a ball. 

When it comes to having eight hours when we’re on duty, it’s up to me to give those eight hours. But what they choose to do in those eight hours is up to them. So, during charter, if they want to watch a movie, or in pre COVID times, if they want to go ashore for a run or if they want to take a nap? That’s up to them. But as long as I have given them 8 hours to rest from their work day, then I’m abiding by the law. 

With these nights off, it’s actually nothing to do with hours of rest. That’s up to them, and what they do with it. I don’t really care as long as the job gets done. I was really scared that night and the next morning; I was petrified that I was going to have to fire Alli. I didn’t think she was going to be able to perform well. Honestly, she pretty much was plastered the night before, and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m gonna have to fire her. I need her.” But she smashed it out. She did such a good job and got all her jobs done.

Yeah, she can do what she wants with her time off. As long as I give her that time off, then that’s up to her.

That’s very reasonable. You’ve mentioned serving as emotional support to Alli, who has also been kind to you. What has been the best part about working with Alli on the Parsifal III?

Daisy Kelliher: Yeah, it was just all of it. Everyone has their person on the boat, and Alli was my person. She was just a great stew; she was everything that I would want in a junior stew. And she’s everything I want in a friend. We have a laugh; we can bond. She wasn’t a bad stew, so I didn’t have to reprimand her. 

I just really liked her. I liked everybody, but me and Alli were each other’s person. We just find each other funny, and we were able to confide in each other. You’re always gonna find that person on a boat, and Alli was my person.

During the show, there was a pandemic scare. Even though it turned out that, fortunately, the guests tested negative, quarantine still had to happen. How were you feeling about the whole situation?

Daisy Kelliher: It was upsetting. I was most upset for the guests, for sure. That was not easy to deal with. I couldn’t imagine, because everybody’s faced so many disappointments this year. I couldn’t imagine flying out to Croatia and going through all the procedures, thinking you’re going on an opportunity of a lifetime on this amazing holiday during such a dark time. And then to be let down at the last minute? My heart was broken for them. 

Obviously, it was great that we had these procedures in place, and most importantly that everybody was okay and nobody actually had COVID. But it was really difficult to deal with. It was not fun, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. It was very uncomfortable and very awkward. It was not ideal at all, and I really didn’t like this.

Some people were worried that Jean-Luc was wearing too many hats during the season and not just avoiding flirting from guests. What is your GFN on his workload?

Daisy Kelliher: He’s very sweet. He’s very young. But his head’s up in the clouds, I’m sorry. I’m pro-Jean Luc, and I’m sure he’s doing great now. We all go through that when we’re a bit green, but Jean-Luc’s workload wasn’t too much. His head was very much with the fairies and the clouds. He wasn’t quite with us. 

Sorry, Jean-Luc. I love him. I’m sure he’s doing amazing now. I have a lot of time for Jean-Luc, but that was definitely his issue, not everyone else’s.

Your background includes hotel management, as well as working on yachts. How are those experiences different?

Daisy Kelliher: It’s just very different. It’s a different level of clientele, and the level of money in the industry is completely different. I haven’t worked in hotels in a long time, and I don’t miss them at all. You often get very bratty people, who are like, “I spent 300 euro for this hotel room,” and I’m like, “Try spending 30 grand for a room, and come back to me then.” Like, 300 euros on what? 

It’s just a different level of service, and it’s a different level of clients you’re dealing with. I don’t miss hotels at all. I loved it to start out with, but I’m definitely more accustomed to working on superyachts.

You’ve mentioned that you like crews that are full of team players, and who are always willing to help others. What are the ideal qualities of a team player?

Daisy Kelliher: I think a team player is just someone who’s willing to get stuck in all departments. I kind of referred back when Gary was like, “I didn’t sign up to wash dishes.” Well, I didn’t sign up to scrub the teak or helm the boat or do watches, or all these kinds of things. Often, the other team members will help bring in provisions, or will help me if I’m running late and say, “Will you take the laundry out of the washing machine and put it in the dryer?” 

Interdepartmental cooperation is, for me, huge. You’re not just in your department. In other corporations, you might get away with that. But there’s no way that in a superyacht, you’ll get away with that. I was surprised that was Gary’s mentality, because very few boats will ever work that way. You just can’t; it’s just too much work for one person or two people to do. 

It might be something as small as unloading the dishwasher or ordering parts. But for me, that’s what a team player is: being willing to help help your colleague out where it’s needed. Whether that be in a personal sense or professional standards, whatever it is, we’re a family. And to me, that’s what makes a team.

How important is it for the crew to be proactive about difficult situations?

Daisy Kelliher: It’s very important, I think. I really like [initiative]. That’s a big thing of mine, especially with my junior stews. I really hate to micromanage, and I hate to patronize. These girls are smart girls, and I don’t want to have to micromanage. I’d rather let them use their initiative, because they are smart, and they know what needs to be done. 

But when it comes to the guys, I don’t mind so much when they don’t use their initiative. But the backlash and the fighting back is worse. I don’t mind if I have to say, “Oh, guys, do you mind helping me?” That’s okay, but it’s easier when they use their initiative, because then I don’t come across as so aggressive. If I’m constantly everyday being like, “Guys, can you help me guys? Can you help me, guys?” eventually, it wears down. Anyone would wear down from that. 

That’s why initiative is quite important, so you don’t sound like this agony aunt.

As Chief Stew, what has been the strangest request you’ve ever received, either including this season or not? 

Daisy Kelliher: This is such a difficult question. I really can’t answer it. I honestly don’t know, because, for me, no request is too small. I’ve been asked to organize private charter planes from one island in Alaska to another. To me, that’s normal. It’s like, “Okay, they need to get from A to B,” whereas maybe to an average person, that might seem strange. I mean, it wasn’t easy. It was really remote places. 

I really need to start writing these down. I really don’t know. To me, nothing is out of the normal. You just have to be prepared for anything.

That’s a good way to treat life as well. One of the most dramatic moments from the show came from when you decided to Google a guest. Has technology changed how chief stews work, with smartphones and the Internet?

Daisy Kelliher: Yeah, massively. Big time. Even since I’ve been in the industry. When I joined the industry first, it was no phones. Phones were completely not allowed. Now that the industry is changing – for junior stews, they’re not allowed their phones – but my phone is my lifesaver. 

I am constantly on it, whether it be looking up napkin folds and cocktail recipes or contacting suppliers and contractors. In interviews, people ask me how do I deal with situations, and I’m like, “I’ll Google it, or I’ll contact this person.” My phone is massively important. 

I think in the last four years, that’s where it’s really become totally acceptable for a chief stew to have their phone on them at all times.

If someone were to Google, what top result or positive news story would you want to show up? 

Daisy Kelliher: I really don’t know. I mean, I would just hope it’s all positive. That’s a really hard question. I don’t know, you stumped me on that one.

Do you want to talk about how you and Natasha have become friends? 

Daisy Kelliher: The thing with me and Natasha is that we were always friends. With the whole show thing, I don’t really mind how people perceive me and the rest of the crew. I think maybe that’s why I don’t mind so much what is said in the media. Because going in there, what I know is the most important thing.

With me and Natasha, I don’t think we’ll ever be best friends. At the end of the day, we worked together for six weeks, but it was all professional. I never disliked her because of her personality or because she was mean, she was just annoying to work with. But she’d find me annoying. I’m sure we all find people in our workplaces annoying, and we still go out for drinks with them after work. That was the reality of mine and Natasha’s relationship. 

So, it was never awkward meeting up with each other. It was never a question of, “Are we going to be friends?” It was like, “Are you going to be in New York?” “Yeah, I’ll be in New York.” “Sweet. I’ll see you there.” And that was basically it.

Conflicts are always going to show up, and what’s important is how they’re handled in the aftermath.

Daisy Kelliher: Yeah, and I think that’s why me and Natasha are good at our jobs, at least in one aspect. We’re just trying to get our jobs done. 

I think there was a bit of personal issues – I think more on her side than mine. I think she very much thought that I was trying to almost sabotage her. But I think it’s a good reflection to show we’re just trying to do our job, and we need to just leave our personal preferences aside for another time.

You’ve traveled to so many places, mainly in the Pacific. What other places would you want to travel to as a Chief Stew?

Daisy Kelliher: I kind of thought I was done traveling, and then I almost got into a boat that went to the two Poles. 

It was a bit weird, because I’d literally been like, “I’ve seen the whole world, so I don’t need to travel anymore.” And then this boat comes to me and is like, “Yeah, we’re partying and going to the North Pole and the South Pole.” And I was like, “Wow. That’s amazing.” 

So, yeah. That could possibly be something I’ll strive to do on my next boat.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do for self-care or to unwind?

Daisy Kelliher: I like to describe myself to people as quite a well-rounded person. I don’t have a massive hobby and I’m not really good at a specific thing, but I’m pretty good at lots of things. 

I love to walk. That’s my big thing. I like to read, but if you said to me, “Let’s go for a hike. Let’s do yoga, or let’s go for a dive,” or pretty much anything. Even if it’s like, “Let’s go get our nails done. Let’s go to the cinema.” I’m up for anything. I’m a very social person, and I love to try new things. I love to keep busy. 

I also like to sit my bunk and read or watch a movie. But I really do love to try new things and be around people. I’m a well-rounded person, and I’ve been very lucky there. I can go horse riding, or I can play tennis. Pretty much anything there is, I’ve done it or I’m at least willing to try it. But I’m just not very good at one specific thing.

What would your ideal vacation spot be?

Daisy Kelliher: Oh, that’s really hard. Anywhere. I’m up for going anywhere with sun or snow. Anywhere that I can ski or anywhere that I can lie on a beach, I’m there. I don’t really have an ideal place. 

If you said to me anywhere, I’ll go.

Your family has a few Olympic athletes, including your grandfather. If you were going into the Olympics, what would you choose?

Daisy Kelliher: I like the Winter Olympics. I think they’re super fun to watch.

Can you give us any hints about season three? If there’s a season three in the works, do you think you might return as Chief Stew?

Daisy Kelliher: I have no idea. They tell me nothing. I don’t know if there’s a season 3, and I don’t know if they’re considering me. But I don’t know a thing. I would love to know, so if you hear of anything, let me know. But I don’t even know if they’re doing a season 3, so unfortunately I don’t know.

Who would your ideal charter guests be if you could pick people from the Parsifal based on personality or age group or temperament?

Daisy Kelliher: Gary’s pretty fun to party with, not gonna lie. Colin’s pretty hot, obviously, so mix that as well. For a fun guest, I think: Gary’s personality, Colin’s looks, and Nikki [Lynn]’s temperament from the first charter. She’s just so sweet. 

So, I’m gonna go with Colin’s looks, Gary’s partying, and Nikki’s temperament.

What is the most important responsibility that you have during a voyage? Especially one as dramatic as this season.

Daisy Kelliher: I think communication is so important. It starts with every person on the team, every department head, and also the captain. Everybody needs to make sure that they know what’s going on. That way, accidents are avoided and things are handled better. And things are able to be anticipated better. Communication, for me, would be the number one thing. 

I think leading by example, as well, is very important. People respect us. When they see the Chief Stew working, they want to help. They’ll be like, “Okay, she’s doing that. I’m gonna do that, too.” I think, for me, they’re both the most important things.

Next: Below Deck: Barrie Drags Daisy for Lying About His Family for Drama

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Leveraging Health Care Reform To Address Underinsurance In Working Families

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Leveraging Health Care Reform To Address Underinsurance In Working Families

The signing of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March 2021 delivered a sweeping piece of legislation supporting families just as we reached the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. The $1.9 trillion package includes a number of measures that provide direct support to families, including several new provisions that make historic strides to reduce childhood poverty. Also within the ARPA are many provisions on health insurance coverage focused on making coverage options for individuals and families more affordable as the country emerges from the pandemic.

As necessary as the ARPA’s coverage provisions and other federal pandemic relief packages have been, they do not address fundamental weaknesses in family and dependent health insurance coverage that have worsened in recent years. In building on employer-based insurance and the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) health insurance Marketplaces, the ARPA maintains the status quo for “underinsured” children and families with health insurance coverage that fails to protect them financially, offers robust pediatric benefits, or guarantees access to appropriate provider networks to support comprehensive pediatric care.

This blog post explores what this vulnerability means for dependent coverage in particular, including how our own research shows that working parents have been seeking alternatives to employer-based dependent coverage for years. Future reforms need to focus on the challenges that underinsurance poses to families, which may mean difficult conversations about the role and future of employer-based insurance in its current form.

Pandemic Relief Builds On Private Health Insurance Without Addressing Its Shortcomings For Families

Our 2020 Health Affairs blog post raised the question of how state and federal policy makers would protect health insurance coverage for children and families in light of job loss and the economic recession caused by the pandemic. The ARPA is an important, albeit imperfect, step toward closing this gap. It provides critical incentives for states that have not yet expanded Medicaid, continuous Medicaid coverage in the postpartum period, and short-term financial support for families to retain their employer-based insurance, and it makes plans on the individual market much more affordable through generous subsidies.

Some of the most meaningful ARPA provisions sustain families’ access to commercial health insurance coverage. Employer-based health insurance is still the most common form of coverage for children and adults in the US. Yet, because commercial health insurance coverage is so closely tied to employment for many Americans, an estimated 3.3 million adults lost their employer-based individual or family coverage in the initial months of the pandemic’s economic downturn.

The ARPA offers some time-limited relief for families beset by job loss by breathing new life into the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), a law that lets workers continue to purchase their employer-based coverage after losing their job. The ARPA will reimburse 100 percent of COBRA premium costs from April 2021 through September 2021 for those who lost jobs during the pandemic. Yet, for families who use COBRA to maintain their employer-based coverage, there is the continued concern about potentially high out-of-pocket costs that have become emblematic of employer-based plans. Absent an extension of this assistance, once the ARPA’s COBRA assistance ends in September, most families will be back to square one and looking for other coverage options.

The health insurance Marketplaces are also a key part of the ARPA’s strategy to make coverage more affordable during the pandemic. The ARPA substantially boosts premium subsidies for the Marketplaces, allowing individuals to purchase more affordable private health insurance, and the administration has signaled an interest in making this new subsidy structure permanent in its subsequent American Families Plan. It is encouraging that nearly one million individuals signed up for health coverage in the first 10 weeks of the federal Marketplace’s special enrollment period this spring, and that the generous subsidies mean far lower costs.

Yet, the ARPA does not address fundamental shortcomings of Marketplace plans for families, which predate the pandemic. Pediatric (and adult) benefit packages within Marketplace plans are generally far less comprehensive than state Medicaid programs that provide comprehensive early and periodic screening, diagnostic, and treatment benefits or standalone Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) plans that historically have provided a broad spectrum of pediatric benefits with limited cost sharing. Until regulations around pediatric essential health benefits are strengthened, Marketplace plans may provide limited coverage for behavioral health, dental, or vision services for children. Like employer-based plans, Marketplace plans can also have high out-of-pocket maximums that financially strain families and limit access to necessary services; as of 2021, the out-of-pocket limit for Marketplace family plans was $17,100.

Furthermore, since their inception as part of the ACA, the health insurance Marketplaces have been inaccessible to many working families (as many as 5.1 million people) due to the “family glitch.” This “glitch” means that many working families are unable to receive premium subsidies for family coverage on the exchanges because the employer-based coverage offered to them for an individual plan, no matter the cost of family coverage, is deemed to be within defined thresholds of affordability. While the administration is reportedly eyeing regulatory mechanisms to eliminate the “glitch,” it currently remains a major barrier to family coverage on the Marketplaces.

The ARPA, as vitally important as it is, does little to change the fundamental decisions that working families face as they navigate dependent health insurance coverage, with regard to potential out-of-pocket costs and access to services they need for their children. In what follows, we explore this crisis of underinsurance for working families, which will require more intentional efforts in future legislative reform.

The Fundamental Issues Driving Underinsurance For Working Families

Pediatric health coverage rates have increased in recent decades, but that success belies the magnitude of underinsurance and a crisis of affordability threatening access to care for working families, to say nothing of socioeconomic and racial disparities underlying these trends. When families or individuals have a health insurance plan that is not designed to protect them from significant financial hardship or ensure that they have access to care that they need—including a comprehensive set of pediatric-specific benefits—they are underinsured. Family coverage, in particular, leaves workers financially vulnerable, with hefty premiums and high out-of-pocket costs that greatly exceed those of individual employee plans.

Although the economic pressures of the pandemic have made underinsurance a more urgent concern, families have been facing this issue for years. Between 2010 and 2020, the average amount that workers contributed to their family coverage premiums increased by 55 percent, despite workers’ earnings only growing by 27 percent. Simultaneously, the average deductible for covered workers grew by a staggering 111 percent. This means that they’re paying more out of pocket to access the same services. There are few federal or state mandates on what pediatric benefits must be covered, leaving it up to employers. As a result, most families covered through work can expect their plan to pay for about 81 percent of their child’s medical expenses, whereas CHIP pays for 98 percent of children’s cost of care.

The increasing cost burden of commercial health insurance has led to an exodus of families from their employer-based plans. Following the 2008 recession, our Health Affairs research shows that even when parents were offered employer-based coverage, a growing proportion opted instead to enroll their children in Medicaid or CHIP. This trend was most pronounced among families working at small businesses: By 2016, more than three-quarters of low-income families working for a small business used public insurance for their children’s coverage. Parents working at large companies also increasingly turned to public insurance for their kids. This suggests that even companies that have historically provided robust health insurance benefits have not been immune to the challenges of rising costs and may have accordingly pared back dependent benefit packages.

Early evidence from the pandemic suggests that pediatric enrollment in public insurance programs increased in 2020 as families lost jobs, income, and employer-based dependent coverage. Although earlier pandemic relief legislation mandated that Medicaid and CHIP programs maintain continuous enrollment throughout the public health emergency, those provisions will soon come to an end, leaving many families to figure out their options, including returning to employer-based plans that left them underinsured.

Significant Reforms Are Long Overdue

Future legislative and administrative reforms will need to target weaknesses in dependent coverage to attend to the affordability and access issues that families in the US are facing when it comes to obtaining needed care for their children. Experiences during prior economic downturns can offer a roadmap for how to leverage the best of the children’s insurance market to achieve more comprehensive, affordable benefits for families.

Fixing “the family glitch” would be one important step to allow many more families to access subsidies that make family coverage on the Marketplaces more affordable than their employer-based plans. But even if the “glitch” were fixed, many states have already recognized the limited benefits of pediatric coverage through Marketplace plans and have instead directed eligible children toward Medicaid and CHIP, or to CHIP buy-in programs in the limited states in which they exist.

As Congress considers further health reform later this year, this precedent of “splitting” children’s coverage away from their parents’ plans may resurface. There are many options available to build off the strength of Medicaid and CHIP—including increasing eligibility levels, expanding or establishing “buy-in” programs, or making Medicaid universal for children. Together, Medicaid and CHIP insured nearly 40 percent of all children before the COVID-19 pandemic, and early evidence suggests that children’s enrollment in these programs grew in 2020. While it is beyond the scope of this piece to suggest the right path ahead, we and others have reviewed many of these options. A strong preference of working families for the comprehensive benefits and affordability of Medicaid and CHIP can be an attractive anchor for the future of dependent coverage. Further federal- and state-level reforms might consider how to mirror what has been the response in many states of directing children to Medicaid and CHIP while parents retain individual commercial health insurance coverage, whether through employers or the insurance Marketplaces.

Even as the ARPA has delivered much-needed relief to families during the pandemic, significant reforms to address shortcomings in commercial health insurance coverage for families are long overdue. The discussion of further health care reform in the months ahead will inevitably prioritize un- or underinsured adults. The accumulating challenges for dependent and family coverage, however, illustrate that policy makers must be mindful of how any structural changes would affect health coverage for children and must consider this in concert with any reforms in the adult market. Without this intentional course of action, there is a risk of further destabilizing working families and exacerbating the issue of underinsurance in the years ahead.

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What Changes When Almost Everyone Can Get Vaccinated

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What Changes When Almost Everyone Can Get Vaccinated

From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the practice of public health has also required the practice of law. As widespread vaccination and other factors have brought case rates down across the United States, state and local governments’ legal authority to impose extraordinary measures in the name of fighting the virus is becoming more limited. Governors and mayors have steadily lifted restrictions not just because infections are down, because vaccinations have increased, or because the public can no longer tolerate pandemic-related restrictions, but also because officials’ power to impose blanket limits on the behavior of individuals and businesses has a defined end: when people have the ability to protect themselves. Nationally, thousands of new coronavirus infections are still occurring every day, but efforts to combat the pandemic from this point on will have to operate within stricter legal constraints than they did in the early weeks of the pandemic.

In April 2020, on assignment from the CDC, I became the senior adviser for public health in New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office. My job was to lead the strategy for fighting COVID-19. In that capacity, I spent as much time talking with lawyers and writing affidavits as I did analyzing the latest COVID-19 research. In those days, “following the science” of public health was fairly straightforward: It meant mandating masks and physical distancing, promoting widespread testing and isolation when necessary, and, crucially, restricting the right of businesses and other entities to welcome people from different households indoors. When New York City and New York State ordered such measures, we were sued by restaurants, bars, and gyms.

Our successful defense against these suits rested on several facts. First, everyone was at risk from COVID-19. Second, in the absence of a vaccine, the only effective way to reduce the risk of illness was to reduce the risk of exposure, and the only way to do that was for everyone to sacrifice for one another by wearing masks, maintaining distance, and exercising constant vigilance. Third, any indoor gathering of people from different households risked transmission to large numbers of people from different social networks. (Where such gatherings were unavoidable, such as in schools, strict precautions were required at all times.) Finally, and most important, widespread community infection could lead to two existential threats: the collapse of the health-care system, and an extended period of mass death on the scale of what New York experienced in the horrific early phase of the pandemic.

Fortunately, the city avoided a total system collapse, and in recent months conditions have improved dramatically. New case rates have plummeted. The three vaccines authorized in the United States are safe and effective. People who receive them are at low risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 and also at low risk of transmitting the virus to others. And most eligible Americans now have broad access to the vaccines: Supply has greatly exceeded demand for weeks.

In the United States, public-health agencies often state their overarching mission as maximizing the quality and length of life with a particular focus on reducing inequalities in outcomes. But their legal authority to regulate residents’ civil liberties derives from a narrow source: the responsibility to protect public safety, as delegated to states in the police-powers clause of the Tenth Amendment. Just as average citizens lack the ability to stop a terrorist or extinguish a wildfire, they also lack the expertise and technology to address major health threats. Individuals cannot, for example, identify a product that caused an E. coli O157 outbreak and take it off grocery-store shelves.

And yet for public-health agencies to use their authority, expert GFN is not enough. They also need broad community consensus that the government is justified in invoking its police powers. The more widespread and urgent the threat, and the fewer reliable methods individuals have to protect themselves, the greater the public’s expectation that the government will step in.

Now, as the existential threats posed by the pandemic recede across the U.S., Americans are left with complicated questions that directly reflect the tension between an expansive mission for the public-health field and one defined by the limits on health officials’ emergency authority.

Americans can now be divided into two populations: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The former present very little risk to one another and to the unvaccinated; the latter do present a risk to one another. Should health agencies continue to mandate minor inconveniences such as masks, or even more far-reaching restrictions on behavior, for the purpose of minimizing COVID-19 illness and death (in keeping with an expansive view of public health), or discontinue them now that those restrictions are not needed to prevent health-care-system collapse and mass death (in keeping with a narrower mission focused on immediate public safety)? Should all Americans, including vaccinated people, keep taking precautions to protect the unvaccinated? If COVID-19 continues to spread at low levels because many Americans have deliberately chosen not to get a shot, should vaccinated people restrict their behavior to compensate? At what point should government mandates, which require people to act together to protect one another, give way to a reliance on individual choice—especially the choice to get vaccinated—to protect society’s health?

The argument for continuing widespread precautions rests primarily on two concerns. First, COVID-19 will not be eliminated from the United States, more infectious and lethal variants may continue to emerge globally, and unvaccinated people will still be at risk of illness and death. Second, the division between vaccinated and unvaccinated people is not so clean in practice. Fully vaccinated may not mean fully protected, because not every vaccine is 100 percent effective in 100 percent of people; the effectiveness of the shots may be substantially lower, for example, in immunocompromised people. Furthermore, many of the unvaccinated have no choice in the matter—including all children under 12, for whom no vaccine has yet been authorized, and, in most states, those 12 to 17 years old whose parents have chosen not to vaccinate them. Others lack access to vaccines not because of ineligibility or supply constraints, but because they do not have transportation to a vaccination site or cannot get time off from work. Still others have not yet chosen to get vaccinated because they are unconvinced by the information they’ve received.

Some jurisdictions are setting vaccination thresholds for lifting restrictions on businesses and social settings; this week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state would lift most remaining limits once 70 percent of adults had received at least one dose of a vaccine. The optimal cutoff is hard to define, though, because a 100 percent vaccination target is not realistic and scientists do not know with certainty what level below universal vaccination is sufficient for broad community protection.

Another reason state and local health agencies will continue to wrestle with tensions over lifting restrictions is their own institutional form of PTSD—a well-founded fear that COVID-19 could fell our society again. They and the elected officials whom they advise vary widely in how much authority they are willing to assert, however. Some agencies will remove all precautions in the face of overwhelming pressure from business owners or the general public. Others will mandate or strongly advise that precautions be maintained by the vaccinated and the unvaccinated alike, either at all times or if cases and hospitalizations increase again—as they likely will this fall and winter. Many academic public-health experts favor more stringent restrictions than public-sector practitioners, including me, believe are realistic. Experts can fairly argue that because we’re all in this together, universal precautions should continue even when the existential threat to society has passed. But it’s quite another thing to enforce those restrictions on businesses and workers whose livelihoods remain at risk and on the large and growing swath of the population that has been vaccinated and rightly expects to return to pre-pandemic activities.

Ultimately, the path forward requires returning to the primary mission of public safety: protecting those who cannot reasonably be expected to protect themselves. In the U.S., the highest priority for all government agencies, employers, and health-related organizations should be to ensure truly universal access to vaccines. A successful policy would ensure that all residents of communities with low vaccination rates are confronted with vaccination drives in their houses of worship, pharmacies, community centers, and workplaces. It would also provide people with paid time off to get shots and recover from side effects. To overcome hesitancy—including that resulting from some Americans’ experience of poverty and societal racism—health agencies should work closely with trusted messengers and media channels to relay pro-vaccination messages built upon facts, respect, and empathy.

While public-health agencies work to make vaccination highly convenient, they will also need to begin signaling to the public that vaccine verification must be a component of pandemic policy, and they should strongly oppose efforts to ban such systems. Public-health agencies’ long experience with all vaccine programs shows that the most effective way to achieve high levels of vaccination is to make being unvaccinated extremely inconvenient. Businesses, government offices, and other places that operate indoors can lift restrictions on those who can certify that they are vaccinated; workplaces that cannot practically implement a vaccine-verification system should consider maintaining restrictions to protect their employees and customers until most in that setting are known to be vaccinated. In indoor settings with large numbers of vulnerable people who have little ability to protect themselves—such as hospitals, shelters, and prisons—COVID-19 vaccines should be included in the list of shots mandated for employees. Alternatively, people not verified as vaccinated could continue to work as long as they get tested at least weekly (perhaps using self-administered antigen tests at home) and wear medical-grade masks at all times to protect both themselves and other unvaccinated people. Child care and primary and secondary schools represent a more complex policy challenge, because unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals will mix, and parents have markedly different thresholds for the level of COVID-19 risk they are willing to accept. (Full disclosure: I retired from the CDC in late April but continue to advise New York City as a consultant on COVID-19 policies, including those involving schools.) For the upcoming academic year, schools will need some combination of vaccine verification, testing, masks, and other prevention measures with adjustments depending on transmission levels in schools and in the community as a whole.

When faced with existential threats, extreme approaches are warranted. But as the worst threats wane, the most sensible approach to public-health decision making will fall somewhere between “We’re all in this together” and “Your fate is in your own hands.” A more targeted approach—one that neither requires universal sacrifice nor relieves everyone of all inconvenience—isn’t just politically wise or legally necessary; it’s the only path forward that we have.

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LI high school baseball in 2021: Aces wild

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LI high school baseball in 2021: Aces wild

Velo, velo and more velo.

Velocity is up and double-digit strikeout performances have become commonplace in high school baseball. Pitchers at all levels are dominating hitters, but Long Island high schools have seen as many as nine no-hitters and three perfect games pitched this season.

Welcome to baseball in the spring of 2021. Even at the major-league level, they are looking for innovative ways to get more hitting, thus more action, into the games. Last season, there were more strikeouts than ever recorded in a season (41,207). And there were more strikeouts than hits for the first time. And there have been six no-hitters in the majors in 2021.

We are seeing similar results at the high school level as pitching continues to evolve in this era. And that evolution of pitchers is taking control of the game. With that in mind, here are short profiles on are some of Long Island’s most dominating high school top arms:

TYLER COX

Clarke, Sr.

Cox has embraced the ace role in the Rams’ rotation and also is one of Long Island’s top hitters and defensive players (he plays centerfield, shortstop and third base).

“He’s a fantastic athlete,” Clarke coach Tom Abruscato said. “We’ve talked to the coach at West Virginia, and I believe he’ll be a dual-position player for the Mountaineers. They’ll use him in either centerfield or at third base and as a closer.”

Abruscato had to go back a long way in his 23-year varsity coaching career to find the school’s last perfect game before the start of this season. Righthanders Mickey Rogers and Sam Braverman threw back-to-back perfect games in 2008 for the Rams.

Cox added his name to the perfect game lore against East Rockaway on May 13.

“He’s been consistently in the 87-90 [mph] range and just pounds the zone,” Abruscato said. “He throws a hard knuckle-drop and a changeup for strikes. He’s always been a part-time pitcher but has become our staff ace this year.”

Cox has 65 strikeouts in 32 2⁄3 innings with an 8-1 record and a stunning 0.00 earned run average. He’s allowed 12 hits and 13 walks.

2021 Numbers

WL … ERA … ER … IP … H … SO … BB

8-1 ,,, 0.00 … 0 … 32.2 … 12 … 65 … 13 …12

College: West Virginia

DYLAN JOHNSON

Newfield, Sr.

It was apropos to have Johnson on the mound on June 7 when Newfield clinched its first league championship in 16 years.

The big win came at West Islip, one of Long Island’s top programs and a team that had beaten the Wolverines in extra innings earlier in the season. Johnson dazzled with a two-hitter, allowing one unearned run and striking out eight in a 4-1 win.

“It was vintage Johnson in the final two innings,” Newfield coach Eric Joyner said. “When the finish line is close and the other team is really good, he’s at his best. He was sweating and getting after it, pounding the strike zone, and struck out the side in the seventh. His velocity increased and the breaking ball was more tightly wrapped.”

Johnson has been nearly unhittable. He’s struck out 56 and walked nine in 36 innings with an ERA of 0.97. He has a 5-0 record with three saves.

“He has helped our team win games that looked lost,” Joyner said. “You can only do so much as coaches. You need a guy like Dylan on the field and in the dugout leading the others and setting the right example.’

Johnson was excited about Newfield’s first title since 2005.

“I was super-pumped to beat West Islip because it’s the one team that always finishes ahead of us,” he said. “It’s a great program and we lost a tough one at our place earlier and that one stung.”

Johnson is committed to St. John’s University.

2021 Numbers

WL … ERA … ER … IP … H … SO … BB

5-0 (3 sv) ,,, 0.97 … 4 … 36 … 12 … 56 … 9

College: St. John’s

RAFE SCHLESINGER

Sachem East, Sr.

Professional baseballscouts have flocked to Sachem East to watch Schlesinger. The 6-3, 185-pound lefthander, who has an overpowering fastball that reaches 94 mph, is the next must-see Long Island prospect since Hauppauge’s Nick Fanti, who signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015.

“Rafe is the real deal,” Sachem East coach Kevin Schnupp said. “There are four or more scouts at every game to see him throw. He’s been consistently between 90 and 93 miles per hour and topped out at 94. He’s developed such late life on his pitches.”

Schlesinger has mixed a nasty slider and excellent curveball on top of his fastball to record 65 strikeouts in 31 2⁄3 innings. He’s walked 12 and allowed 16 hits and four earned runs for an ERA of 0.88. His record is 2-1.

“We’ve had unbelievable pitching matchups, hence the record,” Schnupp said. “We’ve faced five No. 1 pitchers this season. It’s been tough on our hitters, but Rafe loves it. He’s a big-time competitor.”

Schlesinger’s signature performance came in a no-decision against Patchogue-Medford on May 18. He fired a no-hitter for 6 1⁄3 innings and struck out 17.

Sachem East (14-3) is in second place in Suffolk League I.

“We wouldn’t be there without him,” Schnupp said. “He’s a game- changer.”

Schlesinger is committed to the University of Miami.

2021 Numbers

WL … ERA … ER … IP … H … SO … BB

2-1 ,,, 0.88 … 4 … 31.2 … 16 … 65 … 12

College: Miami

HAYDEN LEIDERMAN

Roslyn, Sr.

Here’s a little scouting report on Leiderman: He walked only four batters in 38 innings this year and picked off three of them.

“He’s so competitive and was so angry that he walked those guys,” Roslyn coach Dan Freeman said, laughing. “So he picked them off. He’s a huge piece of a once-in-a-lifetime team here at Roslyn. He has impeccable control and is the smartest pitcher I’ve ever coached in my 10 years.”

Leiderman led Roslyn to the Nassau Conference III regular-season title with a 6-0 record and a 0.00 ERA. He struck out 52 and allowed 11 hits.

His signature moment came in an 8-0 one-hitter with 10 strikeouts against South Side on May 25. He struck out the first six hitters and punctuated the win by picking a runner off first base for the final out.

“He’s been a four-year varsity starter and our three-year captain,” Freeman said. “He has an incredible baseball IQ. He studies hitters and pounds the zone. Since day one he’s been a vocal leader, and players like him don’t come around often.”

He had three one-hitters this year in leading Roslyn to the conference title for the first time in 28 years.

He’s committed to play at the University of Chicago.

2021 Numbers

WL … ERA … ER … IP … H … SO … BB

6-0 ,,, 0.00 … 0 … 38 … 11 … 52 … 4

College: University of Chicago

TOMMY VENTIMIGLIA

Longwood, Sr.

Ventimiglia has been a tough-luck pitcher this season. He has battled the top pitchers in Suffolk League I and come away with some brutal losses.

Ventimiglia is one of Long Island’s top prospects, and the 6-4 righty has garnered the attention of numerous major-league organizations for this year’s amateur draft in July.

Ventimiglia, with a fastball sitting at 89 to 90 mph that occasionally reaches 94 mph, has embraced the competition. He’s struck out 42 in 26 2⁄3 innings and has a 1.22 ERA with a 4-3 record.

“I’m facing top-tier pitchers every game and I know I have to go out and give my team a shot,” Ventimiglia said. “There is no room for mistakes every time I get out there. We’re playing small ball to try and win these games. It’s absolutely 100% preparing me for the next level.”

With a potential pro career looming and his commitment to Stony Brook University, Ventimiglia is focused on what’s in front of him.

“I’m not focused on the draft or college right now because I really would like to win the league playoffs and go win the Long Island championship,” he said. “I’ve been getting a good amount of contact from pro teams and it’s a dream come true just to be considered. It’s hard not to get excited. But honestly, I want a great playoff run with my teammates and that would be a great way to end my high school career and go out with a ring.”

2021 Numbers

WL … ERA … ER … IP … H … SO … BB

4-3 ,,, 1.22 … 5 … 28.2 … 19 … 42 … 17

College: Stony Brook

BEST OF THE REST

John Downing, Chaminade, Jr.

Struck out 39 in 38 2/3 innings with nine walks. He’s 5-0 with a 1.33 ERA. Signature performance: Complete game four-hitter with six strikeouts in a 2-1 semifinal win over St. John the Baptist.

Josh Knoth, Patchogue-Medford, Soph.

Struck out 65 in 36 2/3 innings with six walks. He’s 4-1 with one save and an ERA of 1.71. Signature performance: 16 strikeouts in eight innings vs. Sachem East on May 18.

Tyler O’Neill, Mepham, Sr.

Struck out 49 in 38 innings with four walks. He is 4-1 with an 0.23 ERA. Signature performance: No-hitter with nine strikeouts and one walk vs. New Hyde Park on May 25.

John Rizzo, East Islip, Sr.

Struck out 68 in 42 innings with six walks. He’s 5-1 with one save and an ERA of 0.51. Signature performance: One-hitter with 20 strikeouts vs. Hills West on May 8.

Colin Rhein, North Babylon, Sr.

Struck out 54 in 34 innings. He’s 4-1 with a 1.44 ERA. Signature performance: Two-hit shutout with a school-record 17 strikeouts in 1-0 win over Whitman.

Kyle Rosenberg, Wheatley, Jr.

Struck out 38 in 31 innings with eight walks. He’s 5-0 with one save and 1.35 ERA. Signature performance: Complete game with 10 strikeouts vs. Cold Spring Harbor on May 7.

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