Thursday, February 6, 2014


By Art Martinez de Vara

In 1895, Norbert von Ormay II applied for a medical license with the Illinois Health University and got caught up in the first diploma mill scandal in US History.  Here is the story.
A headline in the September 5, 1896 edition of the Chicago Tribune reads, “Bogus Medical College Agent Held – ‘Dr.’ Norbert Von Ormay, Representing the Illinois Health University, is arrested at Galveston.”  As Count Von Ormay sat in his jail cell on Galveston Island on that warn September day, his thoughts must have recalled the whirlwind of events that marked his life the previous ten years.  Raised in an adopted middle-class Hungarian family, he had lived the quiet life of a government clerk until that fateful day he learned the truth of who he really was – the son of an executed Austrian-Hungarian Count and his 18 year old war bride who had lived on to become a wealthy Brazilian plantation heiress.  Count Von Ormay II’s imprisonment marked the beginning of the end for him, much like it did for his father.
His father Count Norbert von Auffenberg descended from a long line of Austrian nobility, steeped in military traditions.  His life was supposed to be one of service to his king.  However, numerous changes had been taking place in European society throughout the first half of the 19th century. Both liberal reformers and radical politicians were reshaping national governments. Large swaths of the nobility were discontented with royal absolutism or near-absolutism.  Norbert von Auffenberg was among these and he aided the Polish Revolution against his own Emperor, was caught and sentenced to death.  Unexpected luck saved the imprisoned Count when he was released from prison by the Emperor who sought to appease the revolutionary mobs gathered in the streets of Berlin.  Norbert von Auffenberg immediately fled to Hungary, where he joined the revolutionary army there and changed his name to Norbert Von Ormay.  He married Vilma Rozvary, the young daughter of a Hungarian General.  In June of 1848, Norbert Von Ormay was promoted to full Colonel and named Adjutant or personal assistant to Lajos Kossuth, the political leader of the Hungarian Revolution.  Only a few months later, Col. Norbert Von Ormay, then head of the First Hungarian Rife Regiment, was captured and brought before infamous Austrian General Julius Jacob Von Haynau, who ordered his immediate execution for high treason.  At the time of his execution, Norbert Von Ormay’s wife, Vilma was pregnant.  She gave birth in Hungary then fled to Constantinople, outside of the reach of the Austrio-Hungarian Emperor, leaving the infant son behind.  She later sailed for Brazil to begin a new life.  In Brazil she married a wealthy plantation owner and lived there until the mid-1880s.  In her will, she left her fortune to her long-lost son “if he could be found.”
It is currently unclear who raised Norbert Von Ormay II or what was his status being the son of an executed traitor.  He married Francisca around 1875 and had two children Norbert III (b. ~1876) and Frio (b. ~1877).  Then in 1885, at the age of 35 while he was working as minor government official, he received news of his large inheritance in Brazil.  He quit his job and decided to move to Texas to become a cattle baron.  This began a pattern whereby Norbert Von Ormay II used his newfound wealth to reinvent himself.  In the end each attempt was a failure and a waste of his fortune.
The family arrived by ship in New York on March 14, 1885 and proceeded on to Galveston.   His arrival in Galveston, 11 years prior to being arrested, had a striking contrast to the drab jail cell he now occupied.  Newspaper accounts recall the sensational display of wealth and fanfare that accompanied his arrival.  Spectators gathered to witness the bejeweled carriages, the scores of servants and the European fashion on display that accompanied this unusual arrival of nobility in Texas.   From Galveston, Norbert had travelled to San Antonio, the capital of cattle country and on June 5, 1886, he and his family checked into the St. Leonard Hotel.  The San Antonio Express wrote, “Norbert Von Ormay, a Hungarian nobleman….is seeking a location and to buy a large stock ranch."  Among those who proposed selling their ranch was Charlotte Jones, the widow of Enoch Jones.  Jones had at one time been the wealthiest man in Texas and had built his dream home on the Medina River at a cost of $40,000 beginning in 1856.
 Local oral history recalls that the Count’s brief stay at the Castle on the Medina was caused by the respiratory ills of his wife.  However, newspaper accounts refer to an enigmatic stranger appearing at the castle.  Whoever this person was, he and the Count spent several days inside, not once leaving.  Upon his departure, the Count prepared a hasty departure.  He left with his affairs unresolved, abandoning his family and never to return to the town that took his name.
  The Von Ormy Star has uncovered that in 1886, the Count left Von Ormy, Texas and travelled to Brazil where he took possession of the remainder of his mother’s estate.  He then sailed from Rio de Janiero in early July of 1886, arriving at Baltimore, Maryland.  A few days later he married Emma B. Hoschke in Hoboken, New Jersey, while still married to Countess Francisca who remained in Texas in the Castle.  He and Emma travelled to Berlin, Germany where they hired an attorney, Friedrich Gustav Steiglich to return to Texas to settle their affairs.
In December of 1886, the Countess Francisca and her son Norbert III frequently travelled to San Antonio and checked into the St. Leonard Hotel.  Perhaps they were seeking news of Norbert who had not yet returned?   It was here that the Countess Francisca first encountered the German attorney, Friedrich Steiglich, who was unaware of her existence.  Following their first meeting, he wrote that he met with “a woman named Francisca claiming to be the wife of Norbert and occupying the house.”  Ultimately, the attorney arranged the sale of the Castle to Oscar Schmidt of Berlin for $14,000.00.   The Countess received her half of the money and returned to Germany with her children.
The following year, in 1888, Count von Ormay II and his new wife, Emma, by then residents of Berlin, sailed to Bahia, Brazil, but did not remain long.  Von Ormay II took the bulk of his inheritance and invested it in several large haciendas around Montemorelos, Nuevo León, Mexico.   The Von Ormy Star has been unable to determine what happened to Emma  Hoschke of Hoboken, or whether she followed Count Von Ormay II to Mexico.  In an 1891 interview with the San Antonio Express, Count Von Ormay II presented himself as an enlightened industrialist.  He praised Mexican President Porfirio Diaz for recruiting European investment and ushering in an age of progress, reason and industrial development in Mexico.  While giving examples of other European investment in Nuevo Leon, Count Von Ormay II commented on the opening of the first Anhauser-Busch brewery in Monterrey, Mexico and the enthusiastic acceptance by Mexicans for German-style beer.  His years as a Mexican industrialist were short-lived.
By 1891 Count Von Ormay II was back in Texas.  He married for a third time to Elise Henrietta Mehrmann of San Antonio.  Norbert and Elise travelled first to New York and then to Germany for their honeymoon.  They settled in Galveston, Texas  at 2714 Market St.   In 1894, Count von Ormay filed a lawsuit against Oscar Schmidt, the name who had purchased the Castle on the Medina.   In this lawsuit, Count Von Ormay II states that Schmidt had promised to pay the $14,000.00 for the Castle by exchanging land of equal value in Germany.  The Count later discovered that Schmidt was a fraud and the land Schmidt promised to exchange was not owned by him.  This series of business losses and bad real estate investments took a heavy toll on the Count. 
In 1895 he read an advertisement in the Galveston Daily News that seemed to offer Count Von Ormay II, the failed government clerk, cattle baron and industrialist, an opportunity to reinvent himself yet again.   It read “How to become lawful physicians. Lectures by mail.  Illinois Health University, Chicago.”   Through the mail, Count Von Ormay II became Dr. Norbert Von Ormay.
The Illinois Health University, also called at times the “Metropolitan Medical College” and “Independent Medical College” was incorporated by Dr. James Armstrong in Chicago on April 16, 1896 for the purpose of “the education of teachers in the science of health and the art of healing, and fitting men and women for the rights and duties of citizenship, and confer ring on such teachers, when qualified, such diplomas, degrees, or certificates ns the institution might deem proper.” The school quickly ran afoul of the medical community for practice of issuing medical degrees by mail.   In a lawsuit filed in 1897 by the Illinois Attorney General to revoke the company’s charter (Illinois Health University vs. People of Illinois), the Illinois Supreme Court  ruled that, “The company never conducted a medical school, college, or university, however, and its expressed object was never engaged in, and was a mere pretense; and the only business which the company followed was to sell, contrary to the policy of the laws of Illinois, medical diplomas to incompetent persons, and to confer the degree of doctor of medicine upon them, that they might practice medicine in states whose laws do not require the diploma of a reputable medical college, or a medical examination, as a condition precedent to practicing medicine therein, as do the laws of Illinois.”
The newly degreed medical doctor, Dr. Norbert Von Ormay, established his practice in Galveston in 1896 and began selling medical degrees for the University.    The Chicago Tribune reported in its September 5, 1896 edition on Count Von Ormay’s arrest, “Dr. Norbert Von Ormay who went to Galveston, Tex., nine months ago with a Kickapoo Indian medicine outfit, was held there yesterday in $200 bonds to the grand jury on a charge of illegal practice of medicine.  He acted as agent for the Illinois Health University and Wisconsin Electric College and offered to sell diplomas for from $25 to $125, and without putting purchasers to the trouble of attending lectures or doing anything further than answer a series of questions under oath.  He acknowledged on the stand that he got his diploma from Chicago by this method upon the payment of a certain sum of money. One of the witnesses for the prosecution swore that Von Ormay agreed to furnish a diploma to him within fourteen days, although the witness had no knowledge of medicine. Three diplomas from Illinois Health University have been recorded at the District Court since Von Ormay started up.  One held by a local veterinary surgeon has been surrendered.  The holder of another is now in Mexico.  Von Ormay used the mails to advertise his diplomas and the facts have been placed before the Postmaster-General.  Standard medical publications the two institutions named as frauds. “
We can gain further insight into Dr. von Ormay’s role with the Illinois Health University from the testimony of James De Barth who gained his medical degree in the same way and subsequently sold degrees for the University.  De Barth testified that he “was at one time professor of medical jurisprudence…and was also salesman of diplomas and writer of pamphlets, setting forth the advantages to be gained by a course in the institution.”  The Chicago Tribune reported that, “[De Barth] helped to ‘graduate’ students from the school.  According to his testimony the process was peculiar, but simple. It consisted in getting as much money as possible out of a prospective physician and then giving him a diploma beginning with the Latin word ‘Salutem.’ It was signed with the names of the full faculty. De Barth said that when "Dr." Armstrong had trouble in taking students through the necessary process he was always called in. A short talk would do the work and the student would, then be prepared to go forth and minister to the needs of the sick.  But his chief business was to go forth and sell diplomas to outside students who thought that life is too short to spend four years in getting a medical education when it could be had on payment of a few paltry dollars. ‘Mr. Armstrong told me never to let a few dollars stand in the way of graduating a person, and I didn't,’ said De Barth. ‘I got what I could out of them and that was my business.’”
     Reaction to the arrest in several states included calls for medical education reform and regulation.  Galveston medical doctor, L.S. Downs, M.D. wrote this scathing letter to the editor of the Texas Medical Association, "An unworthy impostor has just been brought to a sense of his crime of practicing medicine without qualifications, in this city. Our Von Ormay, of foreign nativity has been practicing for the last nine months on a diploma issued by the Illinois Health University, of Chicago. It seems that this institution has a charter issued by the state of Illinois; and while there is no doubt as to its mode of selling diplomas, their machine-made doctors are practicing in a half dozen states in the union.  Von Ormay was also selling these sheep skins at from thirty-five to one hundred dollars to men of no medical attainments. He was arrested and bound over to the grand jury on the grounds of practicing without a legal right. The case will come up for hearing at next term of court, but he will not be convicted because he is practicing under a license issued by a "legally chartered institution," which the laws of Texas recognizes. Von Ormay made application for membership in our Association. Of course he failed utterly, but as our by-laws stand now he could have become a member, with all the rights and privileges of the most worthy."  L. S. DOWNS, M.D., Galveston, Texas.
In 1899, Illinois passed a new law outlawing diploma mills. The same year the State of Missouri prohibited the practice of Medicine to holders of degrees from Illinois Health University and Wisconsin Electric College.  The Texas Medical Association reformed its qualifications for membership.  In 1900, "Dr." James Armstrong, the president of the Illinois Health University was sentenced to one year and a fine of $500 for using the mails for fraud purposes.  The charges against Count Von Ormay were dropped because he was practicing under a license issued by a "legally chartered institution."  Elise Von Ormay continued to practice as a midwife.
Following this scandal, Count von Ormay II reinvented himself yet again.  In 1898, the year following the scandal he was listed in the Galveston City Directory as a baker.   Count von Ormay II disappears from the historical record in 1899, possibly a victim of the infamous Storm of 1900 .


VON ORMY—The City of Von Ormy has been recognized recently for its innovative public policy and tax structure, most recently by the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Center for Local Governance.
     James Quintero, Director of the Center described Von Ormy as, “a small city with big ideas that is challenging the de facto practice of municipalities piling on local debt and paying for it with property tax .” 
   An expanded business base coupled with a thriving economy, driven by the Eagle Ford Shale play, have resulted in a sharp rise in revenue to the city.  Von Ormy sales tax receipts for 2013 outpaced 2012 by over 50%.  Mayor Art Martinez de Vara attributes the increase to the opening of several new businesses in 2013.
  The Mayor said, “our increase in sales tax revenue was greater than all property taxes paid to the city. This means we are on pace for another double digit property tax cut in 2014.”
   Mayor Martinez de Vara told the Star, “Accolades are nice, but we’ve still got a lot of work ahead, building at a pace we can afford and continuing to grow our sales tax base in the city.  We expect to see sales tax revenue to continue to rise in 2014, but at a slower pace than last year.” 

Listen to the Center for Local Governance’s report on Von Ormy here:


By Artemio Muniz, Jr.
VON ORMY—What would you do if one of the world’s most violent cartel drug kingpin sent you a message begging to reconsider your actions, asking you to name your price and he would pay it? In the state of Michoacán, Mexico one man named Hipolito Mora, received that message via cell phone video. Usually when this same notorious kingpin was seen on video, it was either a self glorifying music video, a warning narco message to rival cartels, or a chilling propaganda piece where the kingpin would roam the streets handing out money and justifying his criminal organizations extortion racket as  good for the community.     
     This time there was no threat  for something had changed, something drastic happened in the region know as the Hot Lands of Michoacán. A simple rancher rose up and simply had enough. This rancher Hipolito Mora, with the help of avocado and lemon farmers, and other ranchers who were fed up were able to eradicate the crime syndicate that the Mexican government, federal police, and even other cartels has been unable to. Mora and the community rose up, bearing arms and broke the law of the Mexican Constitution. When asked what triggered his defiant uprising, he pointed to one of his neighbors, a lemon picker who was forced to leave his job after only working one hour, The cartel had imposed a work curfew, and then arbitrarily sent everyone home. The old man had only made enough money to pay half his breakfast. The old lemon picker keeping his gaze downward told Mora “Luckily I have no kids, because I would not be able to feed them.” Mora told him that this injustice would soon stop, the old man shook his head and reminded him that the cartel known as the Templar Knights were too strong, the cartels were too rich, too powerful. Mora felt rage grow in him and said “ A crazy man will rise up and fight them, and God and the people of our town will protect that man, and this will all finish.” Mora was referring to himself, and with the act of taking up arms, and risking his life he had accomplished the impossible. When he finished watching the drug kingpin ask him to let him operate once again in the region and he would pay any price he requested, Mora sent word back that money meant nothing to him, Freedom was more precious.
     A man can only take so much until his rage and thirst for justice turns him into a cold, focused resolute weapon, determined to destroy the abusive tyrant who before roamed about taking advantage of men in fear. In Michoacán, Mexico simple citizens have created their own new constitution to abide by, they have tasted the power of self defense against the cartels and now refuse to let go of that power. Ranchers, avocado farmers, businessmen, teachers, people like you and me have been forced to rediscover the natural right of protecting their families and neighbors, converting themselves into citizen solders bearing arms, high powered weapons and mobilizing in pickup trucks that before use to carry their harvest to the local market but now filled with their angry neighbors looking to capture and or kill drug cartel goons. Driven by the brutal rapes and killings of their daughters and sisters, these Michoacán fathers and sons avenge the deaths of their loved ones and have taken the oath that they will not rest until the cartels are gone forever from their lands. Perhaps this state of nature of violence is something that is foreign to our American political landscape but if you believe in the concept of laboratories of democracy, here we clearly see that even in a nation state void of a right to bear arms, this natural right will resurrect when good men are forced to restore civility for themselves. Government, law enforcement, media and politicians have all sold out in Mexico and the last line of defense are the citizens themselves. When the social institutions of one's society such as the local police, state police, the media and federal government all are corrupted and persecute you instead of the cartel elements, the ultimate check and balance against the socially accepted tyranny is for the citizen leader to re-impose his liberty by force. What we are witnessing in Mexico, is an internal revolution, the overthrow of a social contract that previously for decades experimented with citizens foregoing their natural rights to bear arms. The government at the federal and state level has carefully answered back by seeking to disarm the citizens and not the cartels. After the escalating tyranny by the drug cartels and corrupt law enforcement agencies that began with extortion, kidnappings and ended with rape and murders, this experiment of ignoring the natural right to bear arms has ended in Michoacán. Men like Dr. Mireles, and Simon "El Americano" have begun a chain reaction that the government might not be able to contain. As an American, I hope these men from Tierra Caliente succeed. On January 14th, 2014, federal police arrived to “restore order” and at gunpoint disarmed some of the citizens of this town. Others rushed to hide their weapons. The angry men and women of Michoacán retaliated with rocks, and the military fired upon them killing three, including an 11 year old child. "We told you to return our weapons, that our people would not stop until you returned our weapons and now look at what you have done!" is what the citizenry's spokesperson Estanislao Beltran Torres screamed in anger. The federal government of Mexico, and the state government arrive with the military to disarm the very victims of some of the most gruesome of crimes by the cartels while the cartel members continue to operate freely. Michoacán finds itself at a crossroads, will they fight and protect their new self asserted right to fight and protect or will they hand over their weapons and live again under tyranny.
Amongst the people who have risen, you will find rugged individuals, farmers and ranchers who now speak the language of freedom. You look at Hipolito Mora you see a rugged cowboy, with his 9 millimeter at his waist, ready to unload at the first sign of a motorcycle who might be a paid assassin for the cartel. Dr. Mireles, a man who worked for the Red Cross in the United States, tall and bold in his public interviews, dons a large mustache and bulletproof vest, jumping out of trucks with neighbors shouting directions into the autodefensa radio network. They take pride in not using any code language, explaining that they use normal words laced with expletives so the military will know their every move, not having any reason to go after the citizens. Amongst the men and women who have taken arms, you see a few here and there who have spent time in America, and you get the sense from hearing them speak to the media that they had tasted freedom and now that they are back in their homeland, no cartel could erase that desire be free.
Currently the odds are becoming increasingly more stacked against these courageous citizens. Televisa, the most powerful news network in Mexico has not only suppressed the story but even put out false information by editing an interview by the citizen’s leader Dr. Mireles, and making it appear like he is asking the citizenry to give up their weapons to the government. Dr. Mireles has taken to u-tube, social media and independent news reporters to carry the truth where he implores his fellow neighbors to keep their weapons at all costs. In International news, even here in America, these citizens have been labeled vigilantes, as if in their society an actual law enforcement mechanism with due process exists to depend on. Here in Texas, all we can do is pray for the men and women of Michoacán who if forced to return back to a state of cartel control, will most likely brutal retribution by the cartels while the government and law enforcement agencies look the other way. The only choice now is for Dr. Mireles, Simon the American, and the brave citizens of Michoacán to assert the natural right to bear arms by fighting their way to self determination.

Artemio Muniz, Jr. is a law student at South Texas School of Law.


Staff Writer
SANDY OAKS—On Monday, January 27, 2014, the Committee to Incorporate Sandy Oaks (“CISO”) filed an Application for Incorporation with Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff to form the City of Sandy Oaks in southeast Bexar County.   This action follows a vote by the City of San Antonio (“COSA”) on November 21, 2013 that granted Sandy Oaks residents permission to incorporate a 2.4 square mile city.  Permission from San Antonio was required because Sandy Oaks lies within San Antonio’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (“ETJ”).  The filing of the application formally begins the process of incorporation.
     The Texas Local Government Code states that the County Judge must order an election on incorporation within 20 days of being presented a valid application.   The election will be held on May 10, 2014, which is the next uniform election date.  Early voting for the incorporation election will begin April 28, 2014.  Only residents within the proposed city will be eligible to vote in the incorporation election.  The ballot will offer residents two simple options, “For” or “Against.”  A majority vote will authorize the formation of a City of Sandy Oaks, Texas.  Legally the city will be formed when Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff signs an “Order of Incorporation,” which will occur after the official canvassing of the election.   Judge Wolff will next order a special election for the election of a Mayor and five (5) Aldermen to be held approximately eight (8) weeks later. 
     The proposed City of Sandy Oaks lies along the eastside of I-37, just south of Loop 1604 at the Priest-Mathis Road intersection of I-37.  The 2.4 square miles city includes the Waterwood subdivision.  The proposed city will contain a population of approximately 3,000, similar in population to the Town of Hollywood Park, Olmos Park, Shavano Park and larger than the 2012 populations of other Bexar County Cities, such as Balcones Heights (2,819), China Grove (1,224), Elmendorf (1,548), Hill Country Village (1,009), Somerset (1,686), St. Hedwig (2,189), and Von Ormy (1,313).
     In 2013, CISO and COSA engaged in lengthy negotiation over commercial land located at the intersection of 1604 and I-37 that resulted in COSA taking all 4 corners of the intersection.  However, since being given permission to incorporate in November land at the entrance to the Waterwood development has been cleared and platted for commercial development by private land owners. 
     CISO spent the past few months undertaking a viability analysis and determined that the City of Sandy Oaks would be viable and beneficial to residents.  Among the top determinations were:
· a City of Sandy Oaks would be able to provide the services most desired by residents, such as, animal control, additional law enforcement and increased fire hydrants. 
· a tax analysis revealed that a City of Sandy Oaks could operate at a much reduced tax burden to residents than the current tax rate of COSA ($0.56/$100). 
· incorporation of Sandy Oaks avoids the $11,559 per capita public debt that comes with annexation into COSA.   Cumulatively, this per capita share of debt is $40 million dollars for all residents of Sandy Oaks.
· incorporation of Sandy Oaks avoids COSA fees and regulatory costs
· incorporation of Sandy Oaks will return franchise fees currently being paid to other entities to Sandy Oaks
· incorporation of Sandy Oaks strengthens the voting strength of Sandy Oaks voters from 1 of 750,000 (number of COSA registered voters) to  1 of 1300 (number of Sandy Oaks voters)  for municipal elections
· establishes local control and guarantees that municipal government will be focused on the needs of Sandy Oaks residents
     CISO favors modeling themselves after Von Ormy, which incorporated in 2008 and whose focus on privatization and use of reserve public safety personnel has resulted in tremendous cost savings for the delivery of municipal services.   Von Ormy and Sandy Oaks share many demographic and geographic similarities.  Both lie along major interstate highways in South Bexar County leading to the very active Eagle Ford Shale.  Von Ormy’s focus on economic development has allowed them to reduce property taxes by 10% or more the last 4 years while increasing the overall budget of the city by 300%.   Sandy Oaks is in a similar position to do the same.
     CISO Chair Pedro Orduno said, "This is a very exciting time for us.  We are about to do something very historic: start a new city.  Sandy Oaks will be our city. It will be run the way we want it to and provide the services we need.   After two years of struggle, we’ve won an opportunity for independence and local control. ” 
     CISO is represented by attorney and Mayor of Von Ormy, Art Martinez de Vara, who  said, “After two years of hard work the residents of Sandy Oaks have earned the right to be an independent city.   No longer will Sandy Oaks be reliant upon distant government and decision makers for their community, they have come together under the banner of self-governance and taken responsibility for their own community.  I am honored to be involved in such a historic moment.” 


VON ORMY— There have been many high profile glitches with the launch of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), otherwise known as “Obamacare”  Website malfunctions and implementation delays have dominated the media coverage of the rollout. 
    A significant flaw in the ACA is that it mandates health insurance as the sole method for the delivery of health care.  This is short sighed. 
    Non-insurance based programs do not qualify under the ACA., as many residents of Bexar Coutny who are currently enrolled in the University Health System’s Carelink program are finding out.
     Carelink is a pioneering program that allows Bexar County residents to access quality healthcare services through University Health System, which they already fund through property taxation. 
     To qualify for Carelink, residents must earn below 300% of the federal poverty rate.  Many Carelink enrollees are middle class families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.  For example, a family of four in 2014 can earn as much as $71,550 in household income and still qualify for Carelink.
     Enrollees of Carelink are allowed to select a primary care provider from the network, plus access to preventative care and specialists within the UT Health Science Center.    
     Carelink was a model of affordable care, with a member responsibility element.  Payment for service depends on family size and income, through co-pays and deductibles.  Monthly fees were very reasonable and range between $40 and $150 depending on income level and annual out of pocket expenses capped at $3,000.
     But starting January 1, the ACA mandates that those over 133% of the federal poverty guideline must buy health insurance.  For a family of four the insurance mandates starts with those earning $23,850 or more of household income.   Any family of four living on less than $2000 per month in income has little room in its monthly budget for an additional  insurance premium.
   While the Carelink program is not going away,  it does not qualify as insurance under the ACA and enrollees must switch to health insurance or face the tax penalties of the law.
     The goal of the ACA should have been universal access to affordable health care, not a health insurance mandate.  The latter was pushed by for-profit insurance companies seeking to get a government mandate of their product.  You cannot blame them for trying, but we certainly can blame Congress for falling for such an obviously flawed law. 
    A fair analogy would be Congress mandating car ownership to promote access to transportation and fining anyone who instead rides a bike, walks or takes a bus to get where they need to go. 
    Programs like Carelink deliver affordable heath care because they are owned by their patients and operate on a non-profit model.  Carelink is also based on a financial responsibility model that requires enrollees to pay co-pays and deductibles based on their income.  It promotes preventative care and shifts patients from emergency rooms and into community clinics, where the cost of care is much reduced.  It does all this at a cost much lower than insurance premiums.  Its main drawback is that patients must use UHS facilities and doctors. But for many that limitation is well worth the cost savings of the program. 
   Those transitioning from Carelink to ACA insurance are finding higher premiums, deductibles and co-pays.      At a recent ACA signup event in Von Ormy, some residents reported to the Star that costs and deductibles were in excess of 100% higher than Carelink.
     While Carelink is not for everyone, Congress should reform the ACA to allow for models of health care delivery other than insurance and reverse the penalties for Bexar County residents who have a more affordable option to access health care for themselves and their families. 


Special Meeting Dec 11, 2013
- Reviewed architectural plan for upcoming capital improvement projects and municipal building

Special Meeting Dec 28, 2013
- Approved amended grant management contract  with Bexar County for CDBG grant for walking trails

Regular Meeting Jan 15, 2014
- Accepted the resignation of Alderman Amy Suarez
- Appointed Jackie Goede to fill unexpired the term of Amy Suarez
- Approved resident survey to identify  Public Health and Safety Hazards within the city and its ETJ
- Selected CDBG grant priorities for 2014: Quarter horse street reconstruction and restrooms in the park
- Changed the name of Medina Station Road to Margaret’s Lane.

Special Meeting Jan 22, 2014
- Interviewed applicants for assistant city clerk position