Rockin’ New Health Care Measures

Musicians – listen up. If you didn’t attend the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame’s event last week, you need to read this now. It’s time to Tune In & Tune Up, the newest Hall of Fame initiative. Board member Donald “D.C.” Culp describes the basic philosophy of the program with one of his favorite quotes: “He who has health has hope, he who has hope has everything.”
Board member Russell Gusetti describes why the initiative was launched: “I think musicians feel the health care dilemma the hardest… It’s very confusing and very daunting at times, and we hope to make this a simple matter and see that there are alternatives and that a lot of this really needs to be preventative care. It’s getting ahead of the curve and doing something right away.” Culp says of the program: “Our objective is to get people to tune in a little bit more to their health and do some preventative things.” One of the spurs for the idea came when Ken Lyons was inducted in 2012 and said that the best thing the Hall of Fame could do would be to approach the idea of affordable health care for musicians.
Any professional musician or industry professional in Rhode Island is eligible to sign up for the free membership card. The card will give members discounts on certain health- related services and products at participating stores. The card also will provide access to ongoing workshops with medical professionals such as Dr. Stephanie Hansen, psychologist, and Dr. Mark Andreozzi, ENT, both of whom were on the event panel. Plus, there will be a dedicated website for health and wellness issues. All of the above are part of the free Tune In & Tune Up Program.
The event also spotlighted Dr. Zaheer Shah’s Access Basic Health Care Initiative (ABC Initiative), which is open to anyone – not just musicians. After 13 years in his medical practice, Dr. Shah decided to go to law school, which brought about a change in his perspective. “There are just too many Americans who are left outside looking in on health care,” he says. “The truth of the matter is that in America, our health care system does a lip service to that notion [of preventative care].” He even began noticing patients with insurance not taking preventative measures because of the high associated costs.
Shah and his colleagues designed a program that they felt could provide affordable, quality preventative care here in Rhode Island. “I almost jokingly said health care, basic health care, should be about as expensive as a cup of coffee. So let’s try to make it that if they can afford that, they should be able to afford basic health care.” And so they set out to make a plan that costs $1.50 per day.
The plan starts with a $90 enrollment fee and then a monthly fee of $45. That cost covers your annual exam, blood work, EKG, x-rays, flu shots, urgent care visits, and unlimited sick visits. The initiative worked with Stop & Shop pharmacies to provide over 200 prescriptions with just a $10 co-pay. And, if you’re a member of Tune In & Tune Up, the $15 office visit co-pays will be waived.
Dr. Shah is clear that he doesn’t think this is the perfect solution or the only answer to the health care problems we face, but says, “We have to rely on good old fashioned American ingenuity and treat each other as a community. We have to begin to solve our problems at the small scale, the local community level.” He sees his program as one way to give back to the state of Rhode Island, which he says has been very good to him.
Both programs are set up to work with the needs of the people in the RI community to provide needed services. But perhaps Gusetti best summed up the spirit of the event: “Take care of yourself – that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Visit RhodeIslandMusicHallofFame.com or www.abciri.com for more information.

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