Affordable Care Act
Reforms bringing down inflation
The grim economic facts underlying our health care system are that the United States spends twice as much per capita on health care as other developed countries but at best gets mediocre quality. If that were not enough, historically health care costs have risen at 6 percent annually, significantly exceeding the rate of inflation. Our high health care costs give other developed countries such as Germany and Canada a competitive edge in international markets.
The Affordable Care Act addresses these problems by standardizing insurance products, creating buying power through exchanges and mandating and providing information on health care costs. The exchanges provide information that can be used as benchmarks in evaluating the cost of policies. This year, abusive rating practices in which an employee group faces huge premium increases because of a single employee's illness will be curtailed. The information provided by the ACA has allowed some employers to negotiate down proposed premium hikes by insurance companies.
This is not to say the ACA is perfect. It is not. It is unclear whether the ACA will succeed in rolling back the excessive costs in the U.S. health care system. But still, since the ACA's enactment four years ago medical inflation has dropped from 6 percent to around 1 percent. To put it another way, if the old ways had been continued, health insurance premiums would be 20 percent higher today than they are.
By helping to cut the rate of health care inflation, the ACA has benefited all of us.
Bill Mitchell, Tampa
Raced to death | Feb. 16
Inhumane blood sport
The Times is to be commended for telling the world exactly what greyhound racing is. It's just as inhumane as cockfighting or any other blood sport in which innocent animals are tortured for the enjoyment and enrichment of humans.
Hopefully, now that the racetrack owners have seen their profits decline so dramatically in recent years, they will get the message that the majority of people are fed up with this enterprise.
Patricia Bush, Ruskin
Put an end to this 'sport'
Sadly, this story is not news to greyhound advocates who have been telling the public for years about the cruelty of greyhound racing. Thanks to the new mandatory reporting legislation, the greyhound racing industry's dirty little secret is finally out of the bag for all to see.
Dog racing is an inherently dangerous and unnecessary "sport" and is it high time for the practice to come to an end here in Florida, as it has in so many other states across the nation.
Shame on anyone who continues to patronize this cruel industry knowing that these lovely creatures are literally running for their lives.
Janet Skinner, Palm Harbor
This article contains compelling information, some of which is already known to the volunteers who work to find greyhounds good homes once their racing career is over.
Our adoption groups pay for the greyhounds' spaying/neutering, vaccinations, blood work, dental work and extractions, microchips, orthopedic surgeons' repair of broken bones, and the care of any other medical condition. The repair of a broken leg averages $2,500 and months of recovery in specialized care. The average adoption fee is $250.
Mel Stein states, "The way they treat greyhounds is the way some people treat children." Really? Children are not viewed as a moneymaking commodity in our society who are put to death when they are injured or too slow.
There have been some improvements in the industry, but our work is cut out for us. We are able to find homes for hundreds of greyhounds each year. If a gentle and forgiving companion appeals to you, consider fostering or adopting or at least learning more about this most remarkable breed.
Judy Prescott, Palm Harbor
Call it a racket
It has been reported that the Roman Catholic Church is refusing to allow medical plans that will include contraception coverage. They claim that it violates their teachings and their consciences. Fair enough.
Now I want to stop paying taxes that are imposed on me because of the taxes that are not collected from people who contribute to the Roman Catholic Church and receive a charitable tax deduction. The Roman Catholic Church has admitted to covering up the sexual abuse of children for decades. It violates my conscience to pay these taxes because it makes me a co-conspirator in these heinous crimes.
The Roman Catholic Church should lose its standing as a charitable tax-exempt organization because of this ongoing criminal activity.
Dennis Proux, Zephyrhills
Pier options give mayor plenty to think about | Feb. 15
Delay and decline
Last year, when obstructionists convinced 19 percent of St. Petersburg's registered voters that the Lens was not a good idea, they cheered the result and said that now a consensus could be built among the citizenry. Obviously, they were wrong. When a monumental artistic undertaking is considered, you will never get a majority to agree on any one plan. And that's exactly what is happening.
With the announcement that 2018 is projected as the opening date for a new structure, we could end up having the outdated and crumbling Pier sitting there for another four years. And all the while, the differing viewpoints of what should happen will simply continue the argument.
With Beach Drive thriving, the world-class Vinoy hotel almost always filled, Central Avenue adding new businesses and the emergence of the Sundial, it's possible that whatever is done becomes somewhat irrelevant, especially with the visitors to our great town having so many other options.
Another aspect is cost. Even if inflation is only a couple of percentage points a year, it will add millions to the expense. I have yet to hear the Lens naysayers mention a word about that.
I love our town and will spend the rest of my days here. But a fraction of the voters overruling a well-thought-out process at the whim of a small group really makes us look silly. Why elect representatives if they can't make decisions?
Scott Stewart, St. Petersburg