Thursday, February 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: Sandwich won't sway this doctor

Drugmakers to face disclosure rules | Jan. 17

Sandwich won't sway this doctor

There are physicians, experts in their fields, who give talks on drugs to educate physicians on the benefits of the drugs. These talks occur at dinner meetings, funded by the pharmaceutical companies. Spouses of the attending physicians are not allowed to come. Trips to Vegas, skiing resorts, sporting events and concerts are now gone forever.

My staff and I are treated to a couple lunches a week, brought in by pharmaceutical reps, who get to promote their meds in a concentrated effort to get me to prescribe them because of their benefits. It's their job, similar to a political lobbyist.

After 35 years of general practice, and the hassles of managed care and government regulations, I'm outraged that anyone would think that I prescribe meds for patients based on sandwiches. Managed care dictates my prescribing habits more than the pharmaceutical companies. My patients have never brought it up to me. If my patients don't care, why should anyone else?

David Lubin, M.D., Tampa

Removing a conflict

Generally speaking, I dislike increased government rules and restrictions, but this time I completely agree that for too long patients have paid the freight for those physicians who prescribe on the basis of financial relationships.

If drugmakers pay doctors for giving lectures, consulting or doing legitimate research, well and good. When it comes to prescribing medicines, especially for common ailments, less expensive and generic older drugs suffice very well in the majority of instances.

There is a profound difference in price of a new and/or still-patented drug versus an older, respected generic; sometimes hundreds of dollars' difference, even on insurance co-pays. This high cost helps to offset manufacturers' promotional expenses.

The deliberate prescribing of meds for the purpose of financial relationships or to "pay back" favors does the patient consumer a great financial disservice. Kudos to the federal administration.

Anthony S. Comitos, Palm Harbor

Scott correct on tax burden | Jan. 16

You get what you pay for

Gov. Rick Scott's assertion that New York state's tax burden per citizen is twice as high as in Florida was judged "mostly true" by PolitiFact.

But here's what it translates to. Florida's public schools, the fourth-largest system out of 50 states and D.C., rank 37th in eighth-grade math, 42nd in eighth-grade reading, 34th in high school diplomas, and 36th on the best educated index. Across the board the state ranks in the 30s and 40s. Why? Per student instructional expenditures rank near the bottom. New York ranks near the top.

Up and down the line from education to economic output, from citizen services and environmental quality to cultural opportunities, New York's higher tax base pays big dividends. What's more, Tallahassee's culture of corruption and cronyism makes Albany's pols look like choirboys! You get what you pay for.

H. Martin Moore, Port Richey

Gaming the system at nation's expense Jan. 16, editorial

Government guesswork

This editorial echoes repeated assertions made by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., since 2007. According to Levin, the difference in how stock options are treated — as a business expense at the time of granting and as a deduction from the company's taxable income when exercised — is costing the government billions of dollars per year.

This is not true. The difference costs the Treasury no more than does any other tax deduction. Furthermore, the difference is an artificial, largely meaningless figure created by complying with current government regulations.

It is only at the insistence of accounting and government agencies such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the SEC and the IRS that options must be expensed when they are granted, at a time when no one knows what they are worth. Various formulas for estimating the value of an option produce, at best, rough estimates.

The only time when everyone knows the value of the option is when it is exercised. The difference between the option's strike price and the market price of the stock is then taxable income to the employee and a tax deduction for the corporation. If, when the option expires it turns out to be worthless, there is no tax effect.

A bill introduced in July 2011 by Levin and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, would limit the corporate tax deduction for stock option compensation to the amount of stock option expense shown on the corporation's income statement, a figure that, as mentioned above, is only a rough estimate. Stock option deductions would be made subject to the existing $1 million cap on corporate tax deductions for compensation paid to top executives of publicly held corporations. (This cap, by the way, has contributed greatly to the popularity of stock options.)

One has to wonder which corporate expense will be next to attract attention from Levin and Brown and be called excessive. Will it be research and development? Will every item on a corporate statement of income be subject to challenge by Congress and government agencies?

Orville B. Lefko, CFA, Clearwater

'Citizens United' threatens integrity of elections | Jan. 18, commentary

Corporate takeover

As a business owner, I have the right and obligation to make decisions affecting my company.

I should not have the right to use the shareholders' money to influence political decisions without their express consent. Corporate proxies should allow shareholders to vote against political donations that are in oppositions to the shareholders' views.

If Citizens United is taken to its logical conclusion, corporations should be "citizens" in all aspects of society. If a corporation is found to have killed someone by its actions or products, the CEO, or some other executive or board member should go to prison or be executed.

Jim Hunter, Lutz


Thursday’s letters: Second Amendment is outdated

Second AmendmentCongress can act on firearmsThe Second Amendment is outdated, since it is predicated on the need for a "well regulated militia." Militias are defined as civilian soldiers trained under the command of competent military leadership. The...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18