Mystery shoppers to survey doctor policies | June 27
Insurance to blame for shortage
The shortage of primary care physicians is a direct result of the practices of the medical insurance industry. Insurance companies value much more "doing" (procedures), rather than "thinking" (diagnosing and treating patients).
When the reimbursement for removing a splinter is higher than for doing a comprehensive physical examination, there is something wrong with our system. Is it any wonder that medical students choose procedure-oriented specialties rather than primary care? To boot, when the reimbursement for a primary care service is the same whether delivered by a board-certified physician or a nurse-practitioner, what is the incentive to pursue a medical degree?
If this trend continues, in another 10 or 20 years, the bulk of the primary care will be delivered by nurses.
John J. Rinde, M.D., FACP (retired), Largo
Act will bring more Florida produce to school lunches
Our kids just won a huge battle in the fight against childhood obesity. Gov. Rick Scott signed the Healthy Schools for Healthy Lives Act, putting control of school food in the hands of the Department of Agriculture.
I applaud the governor and excitedly await Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam's effort to get more of Florida's fresh fruits and vegetables in Florida schools. With an American Heart Association survey finding that few children have an ideal diet and that one out of three kids is overweight, bringing change to the cafeteria is a key victory.
While I understand parents are ultimately responsible for their children's health, it is a comfort to know the state of Florida, the Department of Agriculture and school cafeterias are right there beside us.
Suzan Chin, Riverview
Appeal to tea party voters | June 27
Adam Hasner's scientific ignorance is alarming and inexcusable. To suggest that the effort to curb accelerated global warming is part of some foreign conspiracy to control the U.S. economy is, quite simply, crazy talk more befitting a John Birch Society member.
Hasner must surely be aware that there is a lot of middle ground between "global warming is a myth perpetuated by America haters" and "global warming means the end of the world." It is within this middle ground that reasonable and informed people reside.
Hasner has shown he wants no part of any intelligent discussion on the issue. With his intemperate remarks and pandering to the far right, he has demonstrated that he is unfit for any public office, much less that of United States senator.
Alvin G. Wood, St. Petersburg
A price too high
In Florida's hunger and seemingly desperate rush to attract jobs, are we really willing to pay any price? Is there a limit beyond which we will not go?
The prices, among other things, are in terms of corporate tax breaks, real estate and zoning waivers and perpetual deregulation. The recent shameful reduction of benefits for unemployed workers is an example of legislators pandering to the corporations. How many new jobs did we get for that one?
What other regulations should be bartered? Are regulations we adopted after much thought and discussion now suddenly no good? Is deregulation the same old battle cry that helped get us into the Great Recession?
In Florida's haste to become more "business- friendly," we are making short-term decisions with unknown consequences.
Arnold Frigeri, Sun City Center
The good old days
When my Verizon phone bill came in higher than usual this month, I noticed I was charged extra for going over my 500 minutes. After a couple of calls to Verizon, some overcharges were reversed, but the episode reminded me of how things used to be.
In the old days, each geographic area had just one telephone company, which was granted a monopoly but was regulated by the government. The system worked fairly well, as landline reception was good, monthly bills for local calls were a set sum, and the only added charges were for itemized long-distance calls.
We did not pay for each and every local call. Now, the meter is constantly running on local calls. Back then, we were billed only for the long-distance calls we placed to someone else. Now, we are charged every time someone calls us, locally or from a long distance, whether or not we want to talk to the caller.
We are also subjected to other charges. This month, my bill once again had "messaging" charges, despite previously notifying Verizon on three separate occasions not to allow any texting. Since the phone company is unregulated, these abuses continue.
While cell phones have been a major technological advance in terms of flexibility over the traditional landlines, the decline in federal regulation over phone companies has hurt consumers. It would be refreshing to hear politicians promote regulation again.
Jeff Brinckman, Tampa
Perfectly legal | June 26
Close the loopholes
The horrifying article on homeowners association foreclosures shows the dire need to find and close these ridiculous loopholes. Is there no sense of decency?
Instead of protecting neighborhoods by allowing delinquent owners to work out a reasonable payment plan, the associations allow million-dollar properties to be stolen for financial expediency.
It seems the punishment is far out of proportion to the crime of being late with the association fees. Who are the real delinquents here?
Liliana Sablich, Port Richey