Thursday’s letters: House bill not in patients’ best interests

Published November 7 2017
Updated November 8 2017

Florida House Bill 81

Bill not in patients’ best interests

Florida legislators are considering a bill prohibiting hospitals and health plans from requiring board certified physicians to periodically demonstrate they are current with the latest advances in their medical specialty.

Florida House Bill 81 makes it illegal for hospitals and health insurers to consider Maintenance of Certification, or MOC, a program board certified physicians participate in to maintain their certification, when deciding whether to give privileges.

This legislation represents a new mandate for private organizations regarding what they can and cannot consider when making credentialing decisions. More importantly, it puts patients at risk by lowering the standard for specialty care.

Physicians supporting HB 81 believe that once certified, physicians should always have the privilege of holding themselves out as medical experts and should not have to demonstrate they are staying up to date through periodic review.

Research indicates that expert knowledge and skills decline over time. This, coupled with today’s rapid pace of advances in medical science and knowledge, makes it difficult for physicians to know what they don’t know. MOC helps physicians focus their learning over the course of their careers so they are current with developments in their specialty.

Treating patients is an honor and responsibility. We applaud physicians demonstrating their commitment to medical excellence. We support patients’ rights to choose a board certified doctor, and the right of hospitals and health care organizations to require certification to meet their communities’ needs. The Legislature should put patients’ interests first and support high standards for specialty care by not supporting HB 81.

Rebecca L. Johnson, M.D., Tampa

The writer is CEO of the American Board of Pathology.

Tax impact light in Fla. | Nov. 4

Bill needs a closer look

Your lead story Saturday claims the federal tax bill being proposed has little impact on Floridians. As a tax professional, I disagree.

To the extent we have more senior citizens than other states, losing the deduction for medical expenses hurts us more.

And since our wages are lower than the national average, losing the earned income tax credit hurts Florida disproportionately.

Anyone trying to get ahead by going back to school or moving for a better job would lose the deductions for student loan interest and moving expenses.

This bill deserves a closer look.

Dena Lebowitz, South Pasadena

26 slain in latest horror | Nov. 6

It’s not too soon

Why is it that when an immigrant kills eight people with a truck in New York, there is an immediate call for closing borders to Muslims; but in the aftermath of an American-born Air Force veteran killing 26 people in a church with a rifle, it is too soon to talk about gun control?

Larry Bush, Tampa

Unresponsive senator

Recently, I called the toll-free telephone number provided on Sen. Marco Rubio’s website for constituents in the Tampa Bay area since he does not have an office here. The phone rang and rang — no voicemail came on, let alone a real person. I wanted to ask the senator to take action to prevent the sale of military-style weapons in light of the mass murder at the Baptist church in Texas. I wonder why I am even wasting my time. Our senator is not interested in my opinion. I am not a member of the wealthy donor class that he and far too many of politicians bow down to.

Susie Hoeller, Land O’Lakes

Congress must act

Congress must address our crisis of gun violence. It is not enough to explain away this latest Texas tragedy of mass shooting by shifting the explanation simply to mental illness as President Donald Trump suggested.

Our country has too many guns in circulation. We have laws that are not systematically enforced. We have gun sale loopholes. And we have a culture of denial based on a rigid understanding of the Second Amendment.

We need Congress to address the gun proliferation problem in our country. I am appalled that many members of Congress deny the problem or defer to the NRA’s explanations.

Yes, the problem of gun proliferation is complex and also a consequence of the glorification of violence offered by the entertainment industry. However, can we honestly deny that tragic gun deaths of innocent people are not connected to weak enforcement of laws and the reluctance of our legislators to offend the NRA?

President Trump is wrong. The Texas massacre is a gun problem.

Antonia Lewandowski, Largo

Sensible steps to take

We cannot pass a law against mental illness. We can pass a law against the sale of assault rifles, and we can increase, not decrease, funding for the social services safety net that reduces psychological and social breakdowns, including universal health care.

Edward Renner, Largo

Close the loopholes

Americans compose roughly 4 percent of the world’s population but own 42 percent of all civilian firearms. Even with that large amount of guns, we still don’t have the necessary background checks to go with them. I am calling on Congress to draft legislation that closes loopholes that permit people to purchase guns without undergoing background checks from private entities, gun shows and websites. This idea currently has the support of over 80 percent of gun owners.

Chloe Wells, Gulfport