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A day for decisions on health care

A day for decisions on health care

Every day, you make hundreds of decisions. What to wear? What TV show to watch? What to eat for lunch? But what about those hard decisions — like, what kind of care do you want in a medical crisis, and who will speak for you if you are unable?

Today, Project GRACE, LifePath Hospice and the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast will recognize the second annual National Healthcare Decisions Day, a day set aside to highlight the importance of advance health care decisionmaking. Fewer than 30 percent of Americans have signed their advance directives. We urge all adults to fill out living wills and advance care surrogate forms to guarantee that their health care wishes will be honored. People can download these forms at our Web sites:, or Or you can pick them up at any of our facilities in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

We also want to encourage everyone to take a few minutes to discuss your advance care decisions with your loved ones. Then fill out your advance directives. Let everyone close to you know your wishes when you are healthy so that they are not unprepared in a medical emergency.

Tracy Christner, director, Project GRACE; Kathy L. Fernandz, pesident/CEO, LifePath Hospice; and Mary Labyak, president/CEO, the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast

For all Floridians' sake, raise tax on cigarettes | April 14, commentary

Lawmakers ought to take aim at alcohol

This headline is absolutely ridiculous. The masses of elected officials, media and general citizens who believe the recent federal tax hike will help with our economic shortfalls are gravely mistaken.

As pointed out in previous letters, this will do little except hurt one of the few solely "American" industries we have left. Tobacco is grown here, harvested here and processed here. The industry itself spends hundreds of millions a year on local and national projects, and has repeatedly met ever- increasing demands by a hostile government for restrictions and limitations on advertising and warnings. I say leave smokers alone!

If we want some real revenue to boost our failing economy, go after the drinkers. The percentage of the public that imbibes on a regular basis far outweighs those who smoke. Also, the companies who own the alcoholic distributors are almost solely foreign-owned. I realize health issues are a big concern with smokers, and the general public is rightly concerned with this issue, but in reading your paper on a daily basis, I never seem to read an article on someone smoking a few cigarettes and driving the wrong way on the freeway, speeding through a red light or losing their inhibitions in any way.

David Wyatt, Brandon

For all Floridians' sake, raise tax on cigarettes | April 14, commentary

Desperate for dollars

A whole passel of very smart people signed onto this plea to tax the 20 percent of the people behind the smoking tree in the name of saving a bunch of public health care programs that benefit everyone.

In the middle of this column it notes a $10.28 economic impact for every pack of cigarettes sold. But this comes at a time when we are finally starting to acknowledge the truth that smokers cost the system less over a lifetime because they die younger and more quickly. Give me a break.

It is obvious that these hospital execs are mostly staring into the funding abyss of their business enterprises and are seeing tidal waves of red. Instead of looking for a pittance of free money from the hopelessly nicotine-addicted, they should address the current U.S. system of private insurers and employers failing both those covered and not. Fat chance.

Dale Friedley, St. Petersburg

Teachers' jobs tied to tenure | April 9, story

A right to due process

As a teacher, I found it interesting that Hernando County school superintendent Wayne Alexander felt "hamstrung by the contractual agreements" for teachers.

Those contractual agreements guarantee teachers the right of due process, nothing more. Annual contract personnel can be let go "without cause" at any whim of an administrator. Due process requires a person's poor work be documented. The immediate supervisor must meet with that person and give suggestions on how to improve. Failing that improvement, the next step is the district's office of professional standards.

If a teacher in former superintendent Don Gaetz's district showed up late, left early … and generally was a slug (Gaetz's words), then why wasn't the principal in charge doing something about the situation? I'd be asking the teacher why he wasn't doing the job. It is probably easier to cut someone's job without giving him a reason, or chance to improve, than following due process. Contractual agreements aren't a license to keep poor teachers on the job; they're a guarantee of fairness without personal bias.

Sharon Hogan, National Board Certified Teacher, Tampa

Moral education is the missing element April 9, letter

Let teachers teach

The letter writer highlights one of the problems in our public schools. Schools have always reinforced the traits of responsibility, honesty, trustworthiness and appropriate behavior. The reasonable expectation of teachers and administrators is that those traits have been taught to the students at home, so the teachers can focus on teaching academics, the profession for which they were hired.

However, as parents abdicate their job of teaching morals to their children, the job falls to the schools. That, along with the belief by parents such as the letter writer that schools should teach morality, is a problem. As schools are expected to take on more parental responsibilities, there is less time to devote to the real job of schools: classroom instruction.

The letter writer also incorrectly states that liberals, in their attempts to separate church and state, have stood in the way of teaching moral values in public schools. In reality, many conservatives believe schools might teach values that conflict with their own personal beliefs and have often opposed values education in public schools.

Most parents do an excellent job of teaching their children to be respectful, good citizens. Do not expect the schools to pick up the slack for the parents who fail to do so. Let teachers get back to the job of academic education.

Linda Thies, Dunedin

Sebelius omitted doctor's donations | April 14, story

Another nominee problem

The blatant financial amnesia of Kathleen Sebelius, the Kansas governor who was financed by George Tiller — the master of late-term abortions — once again validates that truthfulness is not a mandatory prerequisite to serve in the Obama regime.

James J. Harkins, Sun City Center

A day for decisions on health care 04/15/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 7:08pm]
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