Car crash fraud on rise | Aug. 17
Don't forget insurance profits
Once again the insurance industry is preparing to launch an assault on no-fault personal injury protection coverage laws in Florida. While on the surface the most recent reactions from Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and Gov. Rick Scott appear reasonable, upon closer examination, they are based on the same old tired rhetoric and scare tactics which have been promulgated by insurance lobbyists in Tallahassee for years.
There is no question that insurance fraud should be vigorously investigated and, if proved against unscrupulous medical providers or those who stage accidents, severely punished. However, if fraud is so rampant, where are the reports of widespread prosecutions?
The tradeoff for eliminating PIP coverage is to go to a strict tort system where all drivers will be required to carry bodily injury coverage against which claims will be made by injured drivers for the first dollar of medical expenses, rather than after the $10,000 in no-fault benefits have been exhausted. Does anyone believe that insurance providers will then be any more willing to pay legitimate claims and therefore decrease lawsuits? Please.
In 2010, State Farm announced an aftertax profit of $1.8 billion; Geico made $1.1 billion. Until the insurance industry proves its willingness to eradicate the "rampant" fraud caused by the current no-fault system, their cries that PIP coverage should be eliminated will continue to ring hollow amidst the industry's substantial and continuing profits.
Robert E. Heyman, St. Petersburg
Censorship of doctor-patient relationship Aug. 15
A simple solution
This law is easy for doctors to get around. All they need to say is, "If you have any guns in the house, please be aware that you may lose custody of your children if certain protections are not in place. You might want to contact someone to find out if you meet all the requirements."
The doctor has done his or her job, and it is up to the parents to decide what they want to do. If the patient asks the doctor for more information about guns, then that is the patient's choice and the doctor should not be charged with violating the law.
Jim Deveney, Pinellas Park
Beckner an early target | Aug. 14
Ordinary election politics
The Times reports that "a conservative activist with a history of involvement in state and national politics" has started an election blog, the first entry of which is "a hit piece (against Kevin Beckner) heavy with innuendo but lacking an actual gotcha."
Wow, that sounds like … election politics. Stop the presses: A conservative opposes the re-election of a Democrat. The Times details the blogger's previous publications, her work history, and a work-related lawsuit, specifically noting that she has written for Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart, readers are informed breathlessly, is another conservative.
Talk about "innuendo lacking an actual gotcha." Do Times reporters publish background checks on every liberal blogger who criticizes conservative candidates? Do they detail their publications in liberal news sources while specifically calling those sources "liberal"? Of course not.
I read the blog post in question, and while it contains no smoking gun, it also isn't all that different from the sort of information the Times publishes in its election coverage, let alone the dirt-digging practiced by all parties during election cycles.
Tina Trent, Ruskin
Ensuring cleaner fuel | Aug. 17, editorial
Industry does its part
This editorial highlighting industry's ability to tap into America's abundant supply of natural gas is particularly pertinent to our state, given that Florida utilities generate well over 50 percent of their electricity from this clean-burning fuel. Enhancements to established technologies, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, continue to increase access to America's oil and natural gas resources.
However, contrary to your assertions about industry pressure tactics, the oil and natural gas industry has worked closely and transparently with local and state environmental agencies to implement standards to protect all facets of natural gas development.
In Pennsylvania, for instance, our industry cooperated with the Department of Environmental Protection in its public review of industry best practices to ensure that concerns of citizens and environmental interests were addressed. As a result, the agency recently reported a 22 percent increase in natural gas production in Pennsylvania's portion of the Marcellus Shale.
This example of how government can arrive at good energy policies that increase energy security, job creation and government revenue has been replicated in other regions of the country.
As you acknowledge, the oil and natural gas industry's ability to access new sources of natural gas is good news. Even better news is the cooperative efforts of government and industry to implement standards to safely develop these new sources.
Dave Mica, executive director, Florida Petroleum Council, Tallahassee
It Gets Better campaign
Lacking a public face
Kudos to the Tampa Bay Rays for supporting the "It Gets Better" campaign. However, I can't think of an openly gay professional baseball player. Fear, ridicule, humiliation and bullying unfortunately don't stop when you graduate from high school.
Does it really get better? Obviously not or there would be more openly gay athletes.
Sherri Lee, St. Petersburg
Perry aims 'treasonous' phrase at Bernanke Aug. 17
Lessons from Rome
A poor choice of words opened the door for media entertainment value, but scoffing at Gov. Rick Perry misses a troublesome issue.
In Roman times, emperor Diocletian devalued the denarius to increase the "velocity" of the money in circulation. History has reported the outcome. It happened then. It can happen now.
Charles Scott, St. Petersburg
Plan B for Obama | Aug. 16, Daniel Ruth column
Demand new jobs
Daniel Ruth hit the nail on the head with this column. Crisscrossing the country and knocking on doors of the largest corporations and publicly demanding hiring pledges from them sure beats forming another committee. Enough of the president's electioneering on our taxpayer dollars.
Carolyn Sherwin, St. Pete Beach
Congress' approval rating: 13% | Aug. 17
When I read in the Times that Congress' approval rating was 13 percent, I was stunned. I had no idea it was that high.
Sam Pannill, Largo