Thursday, March 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Higher costs don't mean better care

Trauma care outcomes should be focus, not fees | March 12, commentary

Higher costs don't improve care

HCA executive Darwin Noel Ang carries on the for-profit hospital Kabuki dance with the public by conflating the outcomes of trauma care with the charges. Trauma systems do save lives and decrease morbidity — this has been well-documented for decades. The public should expect a similarity of quality of care at any Florida hospital that has a trauma center designation from the oversight body, the American College of Surgeons. Quality of care within each hospital is monitored by that institution's specific process, which, for the most part, is legally protected from public inquiry.

I have experience as a neurosurgeon who spent much of my 26 years of private practice in the emergency rooms of various Hillsborough County hospitals caring for such trauma patients. Higher charges for health care have been shown, across the delivery spectrum, not to correlate with better quality of care. In my opinion, the outlier charges and billing practices of HCA are meant for two purposes only: to maximize shareholder return on investment and to highly compensate its executive leadership.

Donald L. Mellman, M.D., Tampa

All would benefit from increase March 12, letter

Inflationary effects

The letter writer, like most of the folks in Washington, appears to be unaware of the law of unintended consequences. A 39 percent increase in the minimum wage sounds great, but what about the experienced workers already making $10 per hour — wouldn't they then expect a raise, based on their seniority and experience? What about the supervisors making $15 per hour — would they sit quietly when others have gotten such a large raise?

The cost increase to businesses would indeed result in higher prices, but they certainly would not be "minimal and hardly noticed." When everyone has to suddenly pay more for the same goods and services, it's known as inflation, which works its way throughout the economy, up to the interest rates paid on bonds, loans and even the national debt. If the interest rate rose only 1 percent, that's an additional $170 billion per year added to the national debt. Believe me, we'll all notice.

Peter Ford, St. Petersburg

Five observations about the special election March 13

Early voters hurt process

This article should have included a sixth observation: the problem of early voting. It is evident that significant numbers of early voters cast their ballots in a knee-jerk decision that skews election results. In addition, I think a significant number of early voters would have cast their ballot differently as more was learned about the candidates through debates and news as election day approached.

This problem can be extended to include all elections in Pinellas County and elsewhere that allow early voting far in advance of actual election day. Worse yet, election campaigns exploit this early information gap to the detriment of the integrity of the voting process.

David White, Clearwater

The ad made a difference

David Jolly's late-arriving commercial with his mother and aunt defused the Alex Sink commercials that tried to show him as a threat to Social Security. Coming toward the end of the campaign, it had to be a major factor for his election day voting margin.

Tom Miller, Clearwater

Time for Sink to move on

This excellent article succinctly breaks down the congressional election for Bill Young's seat won by David Jolly. But I am beginning to think that the Democratic Party is becoming a bunch of crybabies. I mean, enough already. Alex Sink ran for governor and lost, and now has made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House and lost. When is enough enough?

The article also points out the possibility of Jessica Ehrlich, who lost to Young in 2012 and who legitimately lives in Pinellas, eyeing the job. Politics is kind of like basketball: You get the ball, maybe miss a dozen or so shots but you keep shooting until you make a basket. I guess with unemployment remaining at high levels, elected office continues to be the direction to go.

My vote is, let's give Jolly a chance to show his mettle.

John Osterweil, Tampa

Libertarians, conservatives

Overlooked or ignored in David Jolly's 48 percent win over Alex Sink's 47 percent is Libertarian Lucas Overby's just under 5 percent, which were de facto conservative votes. This means 53 percent of the votes cast could be considered to be conservative. Sink's 47 percent looks worse when analyzed in this perspective.

David P. Carter, Seminole

Big flood insurance rate hikes reversed March 14

Politics and deficits

It's great that the flood insurance rates were reversed. Now the question is: How do Republicans justify supporting federal subsidies for flood insurance, which will increase the deficit, while refusing to expand health care for approximately 1 million people in Florida, which the Congressional Budget Office has said will decrease the deficit?

Howard Taylor, St. Petersburg

State court throws out damage cap March 14

Too many lawsuits

This Florida Supreme Court decision reopens the "Florida Medical Lottery" by doing away with caps on "pain and suffering."

No one will argue that trying to define how much pain and suffering are worth is arbitrary at best. What the article failed to mention is that actual medical costs are covered and have never been reduced, and that plaintiffs' attorneys make a percentage, often 30 percent to 50 percent of awards, thus reducing what the plaintiff receives.

This will again open the floodgates for lawsuits to try to win over juries where there were adverse medical outcomes, based on healing and patients' overall health, rather than true medical malpractice. Look for malpractice premiums to rise and surgeons to stop doing high-risk procedures.

David Lubin, M.D., Tampa


Thursday’s letters: School safety requires funding

Constitution Revision CommissionSchool safety requires fundingThe Constitution Revision Commission should consider amending a proposal (45, 93 or 72) to allocate the necessary recurring funding for the new school safety mandates, separate from the ba...
Published: 03/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Let the teachers decide on guns

Trump touts arming staff as key in plan for school security | March 12It’s the teacher’s call on weaponsPlease, let’s try an alternate view about guns in the classroom. First, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the preponderance of letters about guns ...
Published: 03/20/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 23

Re: Residents object to solar farm | March 16, storyLakeland Electric has shown that residential customers can be incentivized to allow placement of utility-owned solar panels on their roofs. Likewise, business owners can be incentivized to allow...
Published: 03/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Published: 03/19/18

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18

Friday’s letters: Put young people to work rebuilding infrastructure

Smart way to pay for infrastructure | March 13, commentaryMake rebuilding a youth project Raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure may not be the best way to go. I suggest we re-invent the old WPA (Works Progress Administration) and draft high...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Thursday’s letters: An alternative for giving: Breadcoin

Panhandling paradox | March 11Innovation in giving: BreadcoinPanhandling is destructive to the donor, panhandler and our community — a guilt trip that erodes personal dignity, respect and self-worth, making the recipient more beholden and entitle...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/14/18
Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Daylight saving timeDaylight bill is bad for businessI encourage Gov. Rick Scott to veto the daylight saving time extension bill. It makes no sense. It puts Florida out of sync with the rest of the country. Commerce will be affected. The entire Easte...
Published: 03/13/18