Thursday, December 14, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Make your voice heard on Medicare


Register your opinion of program

This month, the 392,700 Medicare beneficiaries in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area should pay attention to their mailboxes for a chance to make their voice heard on a critical topic — their health care.

If you have Medicare coverage, you may receive the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or CAHPS, survey in the coming weeks, giving you an opportunity to rate your satisfaction with your Medicare health insurance and doctors. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducts this annual survey to hear directly from select beneficiaries about the quality of Medicare health plans and care providers.

Through the survey, you can become part of our nation's efforts to help improve our health care system. Regrettably, many of the selected don't respond — in 2012, only 45 percent of selected Medicare beneficiaries responded to the Medicare CAHPS survey. If you are chosen to receive the survey this year, please take the time to provide your feedback before the May 29 deadline.

Both the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Medicare insurance providers want to make sure you are receiving the highest quality medical care from doctors you trust. The survey is one of the tools used to help achieve this goal. Survey responses help the government and insurers identify ways to better serve beneficiaries and improve the quality of your health care experience.

Kathy Winans, regional vice president, UnitedHealthcare, Tampa

Rubio's stale school plan Feb. 24, Robyn Blumner

Stop politicizing education

Florida offers a powerful lesson in whether private school options can help poor schoolchildren, but the Tampa Bay Times seems uninterested in what these students are telling us.

Robyn Blumner instead attacks a federal scholarship plan by Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio along partisan lines, cheapening the debate by calling it "craven" and "money laundering." It is simply a learning option that economically disadvantaged students wouldn't otherwise have, and Florida shows it can help.

Two-thirds of the 50,000 low-income students on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship are black or Hispanic. They were the lowest performers in the public schools they left behind and are now making the same academic gains as students of all income levels nationally. Just as encouraging, the public schools most impacted by the scholarship are experiencing higher learning gains.

These results don't seem to matter because Blumner sees a Republican conspiracy. Never mind that nearly half the Democrats in Florida's Legislature support a scholarship, including a majority of the Black Caucus. Never mind those of us who work with children for whom these opportunities can make the difference between a diploma or a jail cell. Never mind that the progressive Black Alliance for Educational Options support the bill.

Rubio will have to defend his plan, but to cast these options as contrary to public education is to treat the needs of underprivileged students as though they are beside the point. The parents who choose these scholarships are not trying to make a political statement; they just want their children to succeed. Let's not politicize the future of our children.

Manuel L. Sykes, president, NAACP St. Petersburg

Trade talks

Corporate giveaways

This week, U.S. negotiators will be working behind closed doors in Singapore on a massive agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It includes 11 countries, but would be open for others, even China, to join later.

It's been branded as a trade agreement, but only five of its 29 chapters have anything to do with trade. The rest comprise a corporate wish list establishing incentives to offshore jobs, imposing limits on regulation of banks, threatening Internet freedom and even banning "buy American" procurement preferences that reinvest our tax dollars locally to create jobs here. These new rules would be enforced through international tribunals empowered to impose trade sanctions and fines.

President Barack Obama has called for completion of the TPP by October, yet after three years of negotiations, the public and Congress know little about what U.S. negotiators are proposing in our names. I would appreciate coverage of TPP in our paper.

J. Darras Dubich, Dunedin


Over the line

The picture of the so-called "spring breakers" in the Weekend section is crude, lewd and rude. It goes beyond coarse and crass. What on earth was our newspaper thinking? Young people, some eight and younger, read the Weekend section. I can't remember seeing a photo like that in my almost 40 years of reading your paper.

Then we are invited to see it online. No thanks. The words are enough, believe me. Have you no limits?

Lilyan Dayton, New Port Richey

U.S. expands assistance to Syrian rebels Feb. 28

The fog of war

As we watch with dismay the fighting in Syria, it is interesting that Sen. Marco Rubio says we should arm the rebels who are the "moderates." In the confusion of a foreign civil war, how do we identify who they are? Will future comments from Rubio help move this discussion forward?

Robert Tarnay, Palmetto

Lessons unlearned

Here we go again. When will they ever learn?

In Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, it usually begins with "aid" and "training forces," then mercenaries "to protect our troops," then more of the same, then more troops and supplies.

Then killing people, ours and theirs, and destroying the land.

Who profits from all this? Certainly not the American people at large, nor the families of dead veterans, not the wounded veterans who struggle for their benefits.

Mortimer Brown, Lutz


Thursday’s letters: Trump’s values hardly admirable

Finally, a president who cares | Dec. 13, letterTrump’s values hardly admirableThe letter writer is happy to have someone in the White House who "truly cares about our country’s business" and is "unafraid … of mentioning God and religious values....
Published: 12/13/17

Wednesday’s letters: Proposal would restore Florida Forever funding

Florida ForeverPlan boosts land protectionMost of us thought funding for land conservation in Florida would be restored when we voted the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) into law in 2014. It passed easily, with 75 percent of voter...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Tuesday’s letters: Writer should look to his own mistakes

Is anyone ever wrong anymore? | Dec. 8Writer should look to own errorsIn Mitch Daniels’ article about people who have been wrong, he finishes with the statement that our lives would be greatly improved with more people saying, "I was wrong."He mi...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t drill in Arctic refuge

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeStop plan to drill for oil in refugeOur nation faces yet another effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reserve to oil and gas drilling. Drilling in the Arctic simply doesn’t make sound financial sense. W...
Published: 12/08/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill puts U.S. on right course

The GOP’s regressive tax plans | Dec. 5, editorialTax bill puts U.S. on right courseThe Times is already crying wolf over the new tax cuts, claiming that the new laws "could" result an increase in the national debt of $1.5 trillion over the next ...
Published: 12/07/17

Pasco letters to the editor for Dec. 15

Re: Helping Others Fulfills our purpose here on Earth | Nov. 17 guest columnThe good doctor acknowledges a CreatorThank you for publishing Dr. Rao Musunuru’s guest column. As Congressman Gus Bilirakis said in the Congressional Record, this good d...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Saturday’s letters: Don’t inject political money into churches

Tax billKeep political cash out of pulpitA provision buried in the 429-page House tax bill, Section 5201, nullifies the Johnson Amendment, which protects houses of worship from partisan politics by prohibiting them from endorsing or opposing politica...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Friday’s letters: Most unpopular tax bill ever

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3The most unpopular tax bill ever"Democracy dies in darkness" is the motto of the Washington Post. At 2 a.m. on the dark morning of Sunday, Dec. 3, 51 Republicans approved the most wildly unpopular tax bill in U.S. h...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Thursday’s letters: Give your child the gift of reading

Fatherhood Involvement in Literacy CampaignGive your child the gift of readingPart of a successful game plan in sports is identifying plays that can put points on the scoreboard. Whether I was playing quarterback at Florida State or running the point...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Wednesday’s letters: Bill gives small businesses tax relief

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3Small businesses get tax reliefThe Senate and House have now passed their respective tax bills. Once Congress sends a final package to the White House, President Donald Trump will deliver us the most powerful tax re...
Published: 12/04/17
Updated: 12/05/17