We can't afford the status quo
The news from the health care front lately is bleak: a federal study showing a huge estimated increase in health care spending in 2009, and Anthem Blue Cross announcing plans for a 39 percent hike in some premiums.
Why can we not take the lesson offered by these news items that the health care plan passed by the House or the Senate would help to address these problems?
Anthem's problem is that healthy folks are dropping insurance — and thus changing the risk pool. This illustrates clearly why mandates are needed to ensure that everyone carry insurance and minimize the risks of the whole pool and help to hold premiums down for everyone.
We cannot stay with the status quo. If we continue to delay or if we start over as the GOP leadership keeps insisting, then health care costs could nearly double by 2019. As a country or as individuals, we cannot afford that. Health care costs have to be addressed. I agree with President Barack Obama that Congress needs to finish the job. We need health care reform now.
Wanda Schwerer, Belleair Beach
Don't miss this chance for health care reform
I am very concerned that the opportunity to pass health care reform will be missed. It seems that our elected officials are so wrapped up in their efforts to protect their political careers that they no longer care about the best interests of the people who elected them.
Some of these politicians happily point out protesters and say no one wants reform now. Well, many of us do. We may not yell and scream in public, but we do beg and cry for health care reform now.
I am a working woman who worries about the possibility of losing health care for myself and my family if I could no longer work. I have been working and paying for health care for 20 years. It is ridiculous that this has to be an ongoing concern while insurance company profits rise without control.
I stand with President Barack Obama and ask Congress to stop being self-serving and do some real work.
Nancy Friedman, Clearwater
For several years, I have listened to politicians and pundits warn Americans about a government takeover of health care. I was frightened, but since Tarpon Springs is privileged to be host to a great number of Canadian "snowbirds," I decided to ask them some questions to hear the "horrors" of their health care system, which is run by their government.
I asked more than 100 visiting Canadians, "Are you happy with the health care provided by your government?" To my surprise, every respondent said the same thing: "We love our system. What is wrong with America?"
If anyone doubts my findings, talk to a Canadian snowbird. They are everywhere, or simply take a ride to Tarpon Springs golf course and talk to "flocks" of them there. The other day while there I spoke with a Canadian doctor who spoke of "some minor warts" on an otherwise excellent system for doctors and patients. He told me of how the Canadian system offers free services for even such things as "lap band" surgery to discourage obesity and encourage good and healthy weight control.
He then asked me this: "America has Medicare, a government-run program for those 65 and older. All of my American friends love it. Why can't you have this same health care system for all Americans, especially because this kind of system would save everyone a great deal of money?"
I mumbled that insurance companies and hospitals run health care in America.
Robert Clifford, Tarpon Springs
Hospital CEO pay beyond healthy Jan. 31, story
On May 25, 2008, your paper ran the following headline: Nonprofit hospitals take care of CEOs. And now we have the Jan. 31 headline: Hospital CEO pay robust.
It's nice to know in this world of "underwater" mortgages and Florida's high (11.8 percent) unemployment rate, hospital CEOs continue to get substantial increases in their compensation. The rich get richer while the hard-working (if they are lucky enough to have any job at all) lose their homes, their health insurance and their minds.
Is there any wonder about why the people are up in arms and a populist revolt is brewing?
Maybe the public needs to redirect its frustration and anger at the rising cost of health care to the executive suites of our not-for-profit hospitals. Try digesting the stratospheric compensation of even the lowest-paid hospital CEO on the list with this story. Very few physicians, those who actually administer the care, come remotely close to these executive salaries. Forget about the salaries of nursing and ancillary personnel.
Major decreases in nurse staffing and all levels of ancillary staff have been the norm in all our local hospitals. Hence, patients have to wait longer and longer to receive care. Forget about the "art of medicine" being practiced. There is no time to "care" for a patient when you are staffed to the "bare bones," and it's a bad business model.
I urge your paper to continue to pursue this story as well as help your readers put pressure on Congress to increase its scrutiny of hospital executive pay. Now that Congress is looking for ways to rein in the out-of-control rise in the cost of health care, this is one place they can start.
The millions of dollars being paid out to hospital executives shouldn't come on the backs of nurses, ancillary staff and patients. We need a more realistic approach to hospital executive compensation.
Diana Lewita, Tampa
Hospital CEO pay beyond healthy | Jan. 31
An ailing system
Seven-figure salaries for hospital executives who somehow think they've actually earned that level of remuneration is not only beyond reality, it's well beyond outrageous, and an integral component of what I choose to call "pathos medicinus Americana."
In the absence of a massive overhaul of our totally dysfunctional health care system, a Tampa Bay medical milieu that includes not-for-profit hospitals more user-friendly to the needs of the sick and lame than to the hubris-driven "needs" of those very-much-for-profit administrators will remain little more than a utopian dream.
J.G. Ruff, M.D., Dunedin