Health care summit
We should help those who most need it
It's said that the Democrats can't see the forest for the trees, and the Republicans can't see the trees for the forest. The president's summit on health care demonstrated that point clearly.
The Democrats want a health care and insurance reform bill that will protect virtually everyone, especially those who have no insurance and can't afford to buy into the system. The Republicans want to protect the institution of health care as it exists with a few changes that make such good sense they were included in both the Senate and House bills.
So I don't see why the two sides can't agree on a bill that will serve the great majority of Americans. I listened to the summit forum, and the sides seem to agree on 70-80 percent of the health care and regulatory provisions in the current bill. For further validation, the Congressional Budget Office acknowledges that the current bill will lower costs for most of us and actually decrease the federal deficit.
The deal breaker for the Republicans seems to be that the Democrats' plan includes 30 million Americans who have no insurance (lost their job, can't afford individual coverage, employer doesn't provide it because it's too expensive, have pre-existing conditions), while the Republican plan would add only about 3 million.
The Democrats are seeing the trees: the people. The Republicans see only the institution, the tree tops, and can't see the need to approve a plan that shares the cost — and the ultimate value — of helping the people who need it most. Thank goodness we have a president who can.
Mike Rosenthal, Clearwater
Obama: We're pushing on | Feb. 26, story
Take a stand against this health care push
The health care summit went as planned by President Barack Obama: no real dialogue, no take-aways for action, no plans for getting together away from the TV.
He can now say he tried, and now, as your headline said, push on and ram a plan through Congress.
There are many issues that could be easily addressed as a first step: pre-existing conditions, COBRA rollover, etc., but this president wants massive change, even though the public does not want this. A poll released last week shows 37 percent approval rating on his handling of health care.
Americans get it that this will increase the deficit at a time when we can least afford it, and they understand that Medicare cuts and taxes for 10 years will pay for four years of benefits: It does not pay for itself. Seniors will see fewer doctors willing to take Medicare patients and states will be burdened with additional Medicaid costs.
Hopefully, some Democrats in both houses will step up, do the right thing, and slow this down.
Curtis Neel, Belleair
Public option still needed | Feb. 25, letter
Level the playing field
The letter writer and many others seem convinced that the public option is needed to compete with "greedy" insurance companies while many of us are equally convinced that private companies are much more efficient and provide better service at a lower cost.
President Barack Obama seemed to agree when he said, "FedEx and UPS are doing just fine. It's the post office that's always having problems."
A compromise would appear to be easily available. The legislation setting up any public option insurance provider could contain ironclad regulations that the public option provider must realistically account for all costs, including cost of funds, pension benefits, and a private sector return-on-investment adjustment.
This would force the public option to be on a level playing field and let the best plans win. With proper accounting requirements, the public option and private options could be accurately compared. But the language has to be ironclad. We don't want another U.S. Postal Service that is supposed to be self-sufficient but periodically asks for more funds.
Eric Rathmann, Redington Shores
Health care summit
I see that PolitiFact nitpicked some of the facts at the health care summit, but somehow they seem to miss blatant lies. Sen. John Boehner said that "we have the best health care system in the world."
By no measure that I have been able to find are we the best. We don't even come close. That is why we need health care reform in the first place. If he had said that we have the best health care system for millionaires, I might agree.
M. Leslie Nichols, Safety Harbor
It's Congress that's broken
If the dictionary is correct and government is "the organization, machinery or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions" then we can be assured that our government is not broken.
Our Congress is broken. Congressional leadership and cooperation have died. But the machinery of government is alive, intact and functioning.
Judy Kramer, Sun City Center
Sharing the burden | Feb. 20, letter
Fat and fallacies
It is unfortunate, but not unexpected, to see one of your letter writers disseminating misinformation by confounding weight with fat. I hear this same mistake from health professionals and others who should know better all the time.
Suggesting that a 5-9 male who weighs 170-200 pounds is necessarily "borderline healthy" is absurd. It is a matter of fat, not weight. Or in the cabin of an aircraft, size not weight.
The misguided application of this general standard has hampered efforts to change the health of our nation, focusing only on weight and ignoring body composition (e.g., over-interpreting the body mass index, BMI) and other health indicators.
There are many "normal weight" unhealthy people — some even over-fat. I see them all the time, merrily going their way because their BMI is below 25. On the other hand, as a male with less than 10 percent body fat and a BMI slightly over 30 (borderline obese), I would be more than willing to match my health against most 170 pounders.
And I take up only one seat in coach, thank you. Seems to me the metric is plain: Charge per seat and you pay for the number of seats you take up.
Jack Darkes, Temple Terrace
Text ban has hit dead end too often | Feb. 20, Sue Carlton column
Target all devices
Sue Carlton's column was on banning texting while driving, which might be considered a no-brainer, but it won't solve the problem at hand.
How are police going to determine if people are texting (possibly illegal) or dialing up someone on their cell phone (maybe not illegal)?
Just like other traffic violations, there should be stiff penalties if you are texting, talking on the phone (hands free or not), or dipping your french fries in ketchup and you cause an accident. In other words, any distraction resulting in an accident needs to result in charges.
It's imperative that the Florida Legislature pass legislation making any use of any electronic device while driving illegal with stiff penalties against those who ignore common sense and cause senseless injuries or death.
David Lubin, Tampa