Major safety net at stake | March 25, editorial
Help in navigating health care
This editorial notes that "Americans are often confused about the Affordable Care Act. Six in 10 don't know how it will impact their lives."
While this plays out on the national level, SHINE, a state-run agency, continues to provide free, unbiased and up-to-date information. Yet compared with private insurance companies, SHINE — Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders — has relatively limited financial resources to promote its services. Nevertheless, the number of clients has grown dramatically and the organization needs many more volunteers.
As we await the Supreme Court's ruling, we appreciate even more our access to SHINE volunteers. Whatever the court's ruling, SHINE volunteers are on the front line, available to help us and our families understand Medicare and Medicaid and all the other services we may need but not know how to get. SHINE can be reached at 1-800-963-5337 or www.floridashine.org.
Debra Sheldon, Dunedin
Major safety net at stake | March 25, editorial
Managing chronic diseases
As the Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the provision in health reform mandating insurance coverage, we as Floridians need to remember that health reform also provides solutions for rising health care costs.
Chronic diseases, like diabetes, are a main driver behind the rising health care costs that are drowning Floridians. Floridians spend $16,551 a minute on health care costs associated with diabetes, and this is estimated to increase to $76,922 per minute by 2025. The number of Floridians with diabetes has nearly doubled in the last 15 years and is expected to double again by 2025.
Fortunately, community health worker diabetes management programs offer high-talk instead of high-tech solutions. Community health workers providing diabetes management services empower diabetics to improve their diet, increase their physical activity, adhere to self-care behaviors and access needed health care services, thus reducing poor diabetic health outcomes and unnecessary urgent care expenses.
Evaluations of these programs have shown reductions by about one-third in expensive emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
We cannot afford to drown in diabetes-related health care costs. We should support health reform and in particular the development of community health worker systems.
Heather Williamson, Tampa
Death panel may be reality
It seems the Republicans were right: There is a death panel in American health care. If the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare, it will be the death panel for millions of Americans who have no health care and millions of children with preconditions.
Edward White, St. Petersburg
Obama ad on the money about Medicare drug savings | March 28, PolitiFact
Someone pays, now or later
This PolitiFact on Medicare drug savings was, at best, misleading. Just because the government is paying for the drugs doesn't make them cheaper. It just means somebody else is paying for them: either current taxpayers or, since we're borrowing a lot of the money, future-generation taxpayers.
Larry Alter, Seminole
Veto the new university
For the sake of financial sanity, it is imperative that Gov. Rick Scott veto the new 12th university in Polk County and the roadway to nowhere.
The taxpayers are already stuck with a judicial Taj Mahal in Leon County, and now the Legislature wants to stick the taxpayers with a collegiate Taj Mahal in Polk County and a road to nowhere.
Student debt is at an all-time high and reportedly equal to the national credit card debt. While tuitions are rising, the Legislature adds the extra expense of a new university. It does not make sense to start a new university when the state's budget is already stressed.
Roger H. Wilson, Seminole
Flawed economics | March 27, letter
Investors should pay more
In defending the lower tax on capital gains vs. wages, a reader wrote: "(Warren) Buffett's tax is paid on capital gains, not wages. The income is based strictly on his investments."
Which, of course, is true. Wages are paid for actual work — producing goods or providing services, which benefits the economy and the community. Investment income is simply the result of manipulating markets for the purpose of diverting more money into one's hand, which benefits no one but the investor.
Obviously, wage income should be taxed at a much lower rate than investment income, since it provides greater benefit to society as a whole.
Robert Sterling, St. Petersburg
Escaping debt, decline March 27, commentary
In this column, I noted Rep. Paul Ryan's use of the term "hardworking taxpayers" twice. President Barack Obama used the term "hardworking Americans" twice and "hardworking students" once in his State of the Union message. In fact, I doubt if there's a politician who doesn't use some form of "hardworking" someones at every campaign stop.
Therefore, I suggest that a form of the term "hardly working politicians, looking for handouts" be used by all of us "hardworking Americans" to describe our ruling class of elite contribution queens who traverse our "hardworking country" with their "Open for Business" signs, sweet-talking us bumpkins as they collect contributions for their super PACs.
Jay Cooper, Riverview
Fill in the details
When I saw Congressman Paul Ryan's article in the Times, I was hoping for a clear explanation of his much talked about budget proposal.
Unfortunately, all he said was, "My ideas are better than yours, but I'm not going to tell you why because I know better than you."
Please, congressman. I see the bun; where's the beef?
Ronn Ginn, St. Petersburg
Cheney in recovery following heart transplant | March 25
The heart of the matter
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has a new heart beating in his chest. If he were without insurance, that new heart would likely be beating in someone else's chest.
Robert Bucklin, Zephyrhills