For health care, lift the tax cap
The average Floridian pays Social Security taxes of 6.2 percent on every penny earned. Any American making $106,800 or more pays no Social Security tax on earnings above that.
Those who get multimillion-dollar Wall Street salaries pay 1.45 percent to Medicare, but relatively nothing to Social Security on their gaudy earnings.
Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi worries about increasing taxes for those earning "only" $250,000, I think people earning more than $106,800 should pay the same Social Security rate as those who earn a tenth as much.
I'm guessing that would pay for the kind of health care programs now serving Medicare recipients for all Americans.
The withholding cap creates America's most regressive tax. Low-income Americans pay on 100 percent of their earnings; million-dollar earners pay on 10 percent or less.
I haven't heard of a single politician suggesting we eliminate the Social Security withholding cap. Most people don't know it exists.
I challenge lawmakers to put this on the table. I'll vote for you afterward, and I'll bet other middle class Americans will, too, if they understand this horribly regressive tax.
Ken Lynam, Dunedin
Canada malpractice costs in check | July 27
To limit medical costs,
we must limit litigation
Compliments to Susan Taylor Martin for an excellent comparison of malpractice insurance costs for doctors in Canada and the United States.
If our president and legislators want to save billions in medical costs, medical malpractice restraints must be addressed. We must put caps on punitive damages. We should be 100 percent in favor of the Canadian system for insuring our doctors and settling disputes.
Are we all forgetting that a doctor is licensed to "practice" medicine? By and large, they do their best, but sometimes mistakes do happen in this "less-than-perfect world."
In my opinion, it would be very difficult for us to adopt a system like the one in Canada. The reason: Some 60 out of 100 of our senators are attorneys, and they are looking out for their trade and not what is best for the country. Have you heard that before? They have a strong lobby.
Don Janssen, St. Pete Beach
Go slow on reform
Let's review some of what the government is doing now;
Amtrak, Social Security, Medicare, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Transportation Trust Fund, and most recently cash for clunkers. I believe we will all agree these programs are costly and not effectively managed by the government.
This health care plan will not affect me because I am 74, however, my children and their children will pay dearly in both cost and care. There will be some very bad results if health care is administered by Washington.
My recommendation is to give people an incentive to purchase heath care insurance.
This should be done by a tax credit for all health related expenditures, premiums, and out-of-pocket expenses.
Those who can afford to purchase health care and refuse to will not get the tax credit and a policy can be purchased by the government.
The truly needy, about 11 million, should be the ones that the government provides for through various government programs such as SCHIP.
Incentives work and tax credits work best.
Joseph O. Paoletti, Tarpon Springs
Get politics out of health care debate July 30, letters
Acting on self-interest
The real scare of "socialized" medicine for the insurance industry and the politicians isn't that working people might have access to health care. Those special interests don't care one way or the other about any health care but their own.
The insurance executives know that a single-payer health system would eliminate their fabulous, unearned incomes by ending their jobs. And the politicians know that the gushing stream of re-election money from their insurance "pals" will dry up.
The entire question is solely about themselves.
Bud Tritschler, Clearwater
Doctor gives up post over e-mail on Obama July 25
System needs repair
I am writing in response to the article on Dr. David McKalip, to applaud the Pinellas County Medical Association and the Florida Medical Association for their commitment to health care reform.
There are numerous physician organizations and specialty societies, including Doctors for America, that are all working together for health care reform that addresses affordability, accessibility, cost and quality.
Instead of deriding the president, we should be respectful of the unprecedented and unusual coalition of pro-reform industries he has brought together, from the pharmaceutical industry to unions to health care providers.
E-mails like the one sent out by Dr. McKalip undermine this process and belittle the real concerns of American citizens.
As a physician, I know our nation's health care system is broken, and I am glad to join the voices calling for innovations to fix it.
Mona V. Mangat, M.D., Doctors for America, St. Petersburg
Dr. McKalip was needlessly maligned July 29, letter
If portraying this country's commander in chief in a grass skirt and with a bone in his nose isn't disrespectful, what might be?
Additionally, the use of certain symbols speaks volumes about the true meaning the sender is attempting to communicate. The picture Dr. David McKalip circulated was highly offensive irrespective of race. The letter writer might consider applying the golden rule to this situation. Maybe she would like to be portrayed with the African witch doctor look and the stylish hammer and sickle. Would including the swastika be a laugh riot?
The hammer and sickle has long been a symbol of communism. Calling someone a communist would be considered fighting, not funny, words by many people. Implying the president is a communist or depicting the president as a communist witch doctor is offensive as it clearly is intended.
Dwight Dudley, St. Petersburg
Hospital cleared in deportation | July 28
A sensible jury
Bravo to the jury in Stuart for clearing Martin Memorial Medical Center in sending an illegal immigrant home after spending $1.5 million on his health care. That exceeds my policy limit.
It is a gigantic problem that free care for illegals is one cause of our collapsing system. I note that when he went home he was not rushed into the Guatemalan system but has been home for five years, and his mother is caring for him.
That jury had more common sense than the nation.
Lynn O'Keefe, Largo
Does anyone else notice the incongruity between the amount of information we have seen regarding the marine mammal Dunham and the Marine hero, Cpl. Jason Dunham?
Jason Dunham, U.S. Marine Corps, (Warship honors Marine who died protecting comrades, July 31) is the first Marine since Vietnam to receive the Medal of Honor, for throwing himself on an insurgent grenade to protect his fellow Marines.
The U.S. Navy is christening its newest destroyer, the USS Jason Dunham, to honor his sacrifice.
Dunham the dolphin, the marine mammal, died after being attacked by a shark.
Billy L. Overcast, St. Petersburg
Curb teen driving
There was yet another story involving a teenage driver involved in an accident resulting in death and serious injuries. Unfortunately, teen drivers cause a great many accidents due to their immaturity and lack of experience.
A logical solution would be for drivers' education to be offered in the senior year of high school, with students only allowed to drive with an adult present until they reach 18, at which time they could drive alone. How many lives do you think would be saved?
Anne Zolt, Sun City Center