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Long-term care covered differently

Helga Kenny hugs her husband John Kenny, 74, who suffered a stroke about a year ago. Medical expenses and the need for long-term care have forced them to go on Medicaid.


Helga Kenny hugs her husband John Kenny, 74, who suffered a stroke about a year ago. Medical expenses and the need for long-term care have forced them to go on Medicaid.

Lifetime of premiums gets him limited care | Sept. 27

Long-term care covered differently

As an insurance agent who specializes in long-term care insurance and Medicare insurance, I feel compelled to comment about the misleading nature of the Sunday front-page story. I have had experience with a loved one with a stroke, and my heart goes out to John and Helga Kenny.

There is no health insurance, whether we are under the age of 65 and using private insurance, or on Medicare with a Medicare supplementary or Medicare Advantage plan, that provides coverage for long-term care. Health insurance is geared toward qualified medical expenses, including rehabilitative care, but not long-term care. Unfortunately, John Kenny now needs long-term care.

When the patient has reached his maximum rehabilitation, then it becomes long-term care, which medical insurance does not cover. Medicare is what we call in the business "short term, long term care." It covers up to 100 days only if the patient has been hospitalized for three days and needs skilled nursing care when he leaves the hospital. The Kennys' medical insurance is still intact. John Kenny will continue to have coverage for physician and doctor services, hospitalization, including clinical tests, and outpatient services. The difference here is that this is a long-term care situation, so unless someone has the foresight to purchase long-term care insurance, then Medicaid is their only resource. Adding the cost of long-term care to the health care reform bill legislation would be cost prohibitive.

Marsha Reiniers, long-term care insurance specialist, Spring Hill

Our system is just not right

It broke my heart to read that story Sunday. What's worse is that there are thousands of families in the same position. Or close to that position. The really disgusting part is that people are making a profit from it, a big profit.

The whole health care debate is not a battle of political ideologies as the GOP (Grand Obstructionist Party) is trying to frame it. It's all about people.

My wife is disabled, and I'm in my mid 50s. I work for a privately held company. If I get fired, we're in deep trouble — without much, if any, recourse. My parents are in their late 70s and have to pay a lot of money monthly for a supplement to Medicare, just to cover the bills, and on a fixed income.

I have a friend who just passed from cancer. She'd recently gotten laid off from a job she'd had for years and was working as a contract employee. No insurance. Her husband works construction. Good guy, always worked hard, never took a dime from anybody. No insurance. She's gone, he's in debt. The kids lose Mom and probably their home.

Everybody in this country can tell you a dozen stories like that. It's not right. We need some sort of change to make the insurance industry be competitive, like every other aspect of our "free market economy." Competition is good. Let the government compete. What can we possibly lose?

Jeff Cutting, Brandon

Personal responsibilities

I'm surprised such a slanted article was presented on the front page of the newspaper.

Is it not the individual's responsibility to read the specific insurance they are purchasing? They had only purchased medical care coverage; the type of coverage the Kennys were lacking was long-term care.

Why is this article attempting to point toward a medical insurance problem? Nursing homes have never been covered by your basic medical insurance for any length of time.

Where are the four other grown-up children? Unfortunately for them, it is time for them to step up to their responsibility — not Uncle Sam.

Let this be a lesson to every reader to review their coverage and cover any gaps to preclude this type of occurrence in their family.

Robert Dobson, St. Petersburg

Serve the people

It is heart-wrenching to read the terrible plight of the sick that this paper has written about recently. These unfortunate people and their families are the insured ones but not covered. How on earth did our government allow this to happen? In God's name, are our elected representatives deaf, dumb and blind? What is it they fear about national health care that almost every other nation on earth champions?

Get out into the real world, guys. The hugs, handshakes, baby-kissing and promises should not stop the minute you are elected. Go and see the plight of the families that the St. Petersburg Times covered in recent days … that is, if you have the guts. But that will only be the tip of the iceberg of what is going on in this country, where you promised to serve the people and not your self-interests.

Alan Ryan, Gulfport

Floggings scar men's marriages | Sept. 27, story

Having been abused does not excuse being abusive

As the article states, wives have suffered fallout from their husbands' abuses endured while they were children at the Arthur G. Dozier School. Wives have suffered the fallout, children have suffered the fallout, and indeed our whole society has suffered the fallout. One wife, reportedly accepting her husband's abuse, is quoted as saying, "He has to take his anger out somewhere."

I have two points to make. First, no woman (or intimate partner) should have to endure abuse in a marriage or other form of partnership. We are meant to live in peace and harmony. The violence is not okay, and the woman deserves better.

Second, the pain and suffering that her husband endured as a child does not excuse his behaviors as an adult. Certainly I feel compassion for him. I understand that he was probably raised in a home with violence, learned his acting-out behaviors resulting in his incarceration in that context, and that his parents were also probably victims during their respective childhoods. This, however, in no way excuses the man from now maintaining the cycle of power and control in a relationship.

A famous saying comes to mind. Wounds that are not transformed are transmitted. As a professional working in the field of child abuse and domestic violence, I see the consequences of violence in families on a regular basis. The violence often culminates in truancy, crime, addictions, depression, ill health and teen pregnancy.

It is imperative that men seek help when needed, speak out against violence by peers and support women in their quest for peace and justice. Boys (and, of course, girls) are still being flogged — literally and figuratively — in their homes. It is also called "whoopins," beatings, or spankings. It is also called verbal abuse and emotional abuse. The children will grow up to be partners who will be more likely to victimize others if we don't all speak out against the violence in the home and our institutions.

Professionals agree that children need fair and consistent discipline. (Discipline comes from the same root word as disciple and relates to teaching.) They do not, however, need to be beaten. And they certainly do not need to witness their mothers being beaten.

Douglas Bonar, Pinellas Park

Restored rights to be re-examined | Sept. 25, story

Automatic makes sense

The time-consuming process of restoring civil rights could be significantly improved by automatically restoring civil rights for young people who were sentenced by a judge as a youthful offender — unless they have committed another crime.

Florida law has a "separate statutory scheme" known as the Florida Youthful Offender Act.

In the case of State vs. Wooten, (Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal 2001) the state argued that a minimum mandatory law should apply to youthful offenders, but the court ruled otherwise.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal in Florida stated in this case that "we interpret the Youthful Offender Act, chapter 958, to be a separate statutory scheme … regardless of the nature of their crimes."

Since the Youthful Offender Act is a "separate statutory scheme," Charlie Crist, Alex Sink, Bill McCollum, Charles Bronson, or someone with the power should apply the Youthful Offender Act when it comes to restoring civil rights. They could at least look into this matter when they re-examine various problems as discussed in this article.

Restoring civil rights for youthful offenders should be an automatic process, once all conditions of a sentence have been met. This would greatly reduce the workload of restoring civil rights.

Lynne Shelby, St. Petersburg

Updating the rules for skin cancer checks Sept. 17, story

Skin screenings are wise

This article is a bit misleading. It gives the impression that yearly skin checks designed to identify early skin cancers are worthless. This is not true. The study cited, from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, merely suggested that there is not sufficient evidence that skin checks from primary care doctors, such as family practitioners, are effective. It does not say they are ineffective, just that the issue has not been sufficiently studied.

The important point is the study did not look at skin checks by dermatologists. Dermatologists are physicians who treat the skin, hair and nails and their associated diseases. They are expert at recognizing small early skin cancers, and multiple studies have shown dermatologists have far superior detection abilities compared to general practitioners.

Thus it is the position of the American Academy of Dermatology that yearly skin checks are prudent preventative medicine, and to simply wait for a tumor to become large and obvious is not good medicine. To this end, the AAD sponsors free skin examinations for the public around the country. To learn more about this valuable program, check their Web site at The Florida Society of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery can help readers find a board-certified dermatologist who can check their skin. Their Web site is

James M. Spencer, M.D., immediate past president, Florida Society of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery, St. Petersburg

Musical medley soothes struggle | Sept. 27

The man's charitable side

Your article in Sunday's Times about Mark Yaffe and his "musical medley" is right on when it comes to describing the passion of a collector.

Mark is indeed the consummate collector, but he is also the consummate humanitarian who has given his money and his energy to charitable causes too numerous to mention. Whenever asked, he has opened his home and his pocketbook to help the needy, clothe the hungry and support our nation's military.

Whatever his troubles may be, I know of no business dealing that has not been both honorable and forthright; for me personally he has been a trusted adviser when purchasing or selling gold coins and other collectibles, and I hope when all of the issues are settled you will write about the other side of Mark Yaffe that your article misses: the warm, considerate, compassionate man whose love for collecting is only exceeded by his love for doing what few do — saying thank you by deeds and by actions that benefit so many.

John Osterweil, Tampa

Remember value of petroleum | Sept. 26, letter

A sense of wonder

The letter writer, a petroleum industry denizen and gulf drilling advocate, is appalled at the ignorance of Floridians and then asks an even more appalling question: "What do our lovely pristine beaches do for the good of humanity?"

The question left me absolutely stunned. Mountains, beaches, forests, oceans, canyons and other natural wonders give us perspective and a sense of wonder, lucidity, contentment, fulfillment and peace, when we are in their presence. And isn't this all we really want anyway? All striving for wealth, power, position and fame is just an indirect and veiled attempt at these states, attempts doomed to failure.

Everything is not for the benefit of humanity. We are but a small part of this existence, not the centerpiece of it, which I hope would be obvious by now.

I am not ignorant of the contributions of the petroleum industry, but I also know when enough is enough. Some things are better left untouched by us.

So in answer to the letter writer's question: The beaches let us see something greater than ourselves. I wouldn't want to live here without them no matter what the petroleum industry comes up with.

Steven P. Harrison, Clearwater

Remember value of petroleum | Sept. 26

A key part of our economy

The letter writer, in support of offshore drilling, poses the question, "What do our lovely pristine beaches do for the good of humanity?"

Besides the obvious pleasurable experiences everyone has of going to the beach, they provide the economic engine that drives our local and state economy. We are a tourist-based economy and if you take away the pristine beaches you'll take away that engine.

We will all be just one major oil spill away from having a state income tax thrust upon us to make up for the resulting collapse of the economy.

John Solvibile, Clearwater

Killer Couey dies at 51 | Oct. 1, story

A feeling of relief, sadness

Like many of us who have followed the story of the Lunsford case, I feel profound relief in the death of John Couey. It is my great hope that God's judgment be visited fully upon him.

As profound as my sense of relief is, my sense of sadness runs even deeper. Every time I see the picture of that joyful child with the wide smile and floppy pink hat my heart breaks for the pain her family must feel.

I hope that now Couey is gone they can find some semblance of peace and joy in the memory of the beautiful spirt she was.

Ben Buckner, Largo

Long-term care covered differently 10/02/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 2, 2009 6:18pm]
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