Plan raises quality of cancer care
We applaud Gov. Rick Scott for his ground-breaking proposal to raise the overall quality of cancer care in Florida by investing $80 million in next year's state budget for cancer research.
Cancer places a terrible burden on families in Florida, which ranks No. 2 in the country for cancer incidence and mortality. The long-term funding of this proposal, which the House of Representatives has adopted, will promote game-changing cancer research while providing resources to recruit and train the best and brightest physicians and scientists — resulting in improved cancer care and greater access to care across the state.
A critical component of the governor's plan is increasing the number of Florida institutions that can attain the prestigious Comprehensive Cancer Center designation by the National Cancer Institute. This honor is awarded only to cancer centers demonstrating excellence in all phases of research and is held by only 41 centers in the United States.
Currently, Moffitt Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida. We have earned and maintained this designation thanks in part to our more than 400 clinical trials testing therapies guided by our basic research that have led to new, cutting-edge treatments, including our recent ground-breaking success in the treatment of melanoma.
Another important factor in achieving the designation has been our role in training more students in the field of oncology than all other Florida institutions combined. We believe that training tomorrow's workforce, whether in the clinic or the laboratory, is critical to advancing cancer care in our state.
We urge the Florida Senate to support this forward-thinking proposal, which we believe will improve the lives of Floridians impacted by this terrible disease.
Alan List, M.D., president and CEO, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa
For most, odds of IRS audit: 1% | April 14
Tax cheats cost everyone
The fact that Congress actually loses more money by cutting the IRS enforcement budget should be proof enough that many so-called deficit hawks really don't care about reducing the gap between revenue and expenses. These cutbacks go back to the Bush administration, when the number of business audits went dramatically down and the number of earned income credit audits went up. They found the one group — EIC filers (without lobbyists) — where it actually costs more to audit than the IRS gets in recovery and increased those audits while cutting other, much more "profitable" types of audits.
I'm not sure which is worse: congressmen bragging about cutting the IRS budget or the average taxpayer who applauds such cuts, not realizing that letting the tax cheats get off free costs us all more in the end.
Andrew Fussner, Seminole
Wired to work with marijuana? | April 14
Pot's multiple benefits
I worry that the miraculous effect that pot's cannabinoid molecule has on epilepsy will eclipse the benefits of pot's other components. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta described the benefits as an "entourage effect," a term coined by Israeli researchers in 1998 to describe the synergistic effect of the multitude of components found in the whole plant.
As the future unfolds, we'll see these components isolated, tested, FDA-approved and marketed. Meanwhile, patients with ailments that benefit from the whole plant should be allowed to have it. While likely not the panacea claimed by zealous supporters, pot is certainly not the bugaboo claimed by zealous detractors.
As if the medical benefits were not enough, recent research papers are finding that states with legal medical pot are seeing improvements in public safety, as compared to states where medical pot is still illegal. They found reductions in suicides, traffic fatalities and beer consumption — all with no significant change in pot use. Most recently, a paper in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, reported reductions in serious crime and concluded, "These findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes."
In November, vote for Amendment 2 to let patients have the whole plant.
John G. Chase, Palm Harbor
Deputies investigate horse rescue | April 12
I have been involved with RVR Horse Rescue for almost 2 ½ years. I have never seen a horse neglected by anyone at RVR. What I have seen is sacrifice and sleep lost sitting with sick horses, and I have seen dedication and love for these animals. RVR works closely with equine vets, and we have a vet tech who lives on the premises.
We recently completed work on a medical stall to be able to handle the most severe cases of injury and neglect. RVR is totally volunteer-run. This is our passion. If a call goes out for assistance, our volunteers answer without hesitation.
Dee Goodhand, Lithia
Equal-pay demagogues | April 14
Fighting fire with fire
The points in this column are well taken. However, Ruth Marcus overlooks the broader political context in which the Democrats are speaking. Thanks to prolonged ideological thinking and behavior by Republicans, questionable claims in ads, and the politicizing of daily actions and decisions, the level of rhetoric has escalated to an all-time high (or low, depending on your point of view). As a result, it seems that hyperbole is necessary in order to be heard.
Our country would run more effectively if the levels of noise and stridency were reduced in our discussions of policy and legislation.
Sharon Mayes, Palm Harbor
Demagogues right and left
After reading this Ruth Marcus column, I was somewhat confused by her reasoning. She said that she was for equal pay for women and that she would vote for the Paycheck Fairness Act if she were a member of Congress. Yet she accuses the Democrats, who do support it in Congress, of being demagogues. That is a pretty strong word, considering the demagoguery of the Republican Party on this issue and many others in the past five years.
Michael Malafronte, Trinity