Scott doubts pension plan | Jan. 3
Many factors in pensions' health
I agree with Gov. Rick Scott that a 7.75 percent interest assumption seems high in today's economy. Interest is just one of several assumptions used to calculate an appropriate annual contribution to the pension plan. Rates of mortality, of withdrawal and of becoming disabled enter into the calculation as well as assumed salary increases and cost-of-living expenses. Funding a pension plan is a long-term undertaking, with contributions being made over a 25- to 35-year period to pay for unfunded accrued liabilities.
An annual valuation of the plan by a qualified actuary should be made to monitor plan performance and to make appropriate adjustments in contribution levels. Some cities in Florida have an independent audit every five years by a qualified actuary or firm to review plan experience.
Scott mentioned employee contributions to the plan. Under Social Security, employee contributions are called payroll taxes. Didn't he say that he was going to "cut taxes"? He also said that he will reduce the state work force by 5 percent. What is the net effect of these two items?
If you only lower the interest rate assumption and add employee contributions, you will not have solved the pension plan dilemma.
Owen Schlaug, Belleair
Business as usual
We now have a governor in a state swarming with Medicare recipients who milked billions of dollars from Medicare.
Rick Scott claims he will clean up the special-interest brigade but first collects handsome sums from them for his inaugural bash. At the same time, he closes an essential drug and alcohol abuse program as an unnecessary expense. Well, it shows he means business … business as usual.
Alan Ryan, Gulfport
Uninspiring start on tired themes | Jan. 5, editorial
New direction for Florida
Gov. Rick Scott's use of outcomes research to direct state programs is a new executive direction in Tallahassee. Outcomes research attempts to take various approaches that try to produce positive results and to select one with the best rewards with fewest risks.
What's new is that the focus will be on what works for our state programs, such as public education, Medicaid and the state prison system. This is a big change in political leadership, and I wish Scott success. But it is also extremely unpopular with political patrons. Why? Because political contributors want it their way.
Stuart Berney, Tampa
The unborn paradox | Jan. 4, commentary
A personal choice
MTV's abortion special exhibited the stark reality surrounding abortion. It revealed it is a difficult decision for the pregnant woman and her family and that judging others for their personal family planning decisions is not our place. Providing support is more productive.
Ross Douthat's op-ed confuses the real issue surrounding abortion: choice. Why is the United States practically the only developed nation in the world in which women's autonomy over their bodies and their ability to make decisions about when or when not to have a child is still up for debate? As a woman in her 30s, I am ashamed that this nation is full of people who feel they have a right to make decisions about the structure of my family.
Unwanted pregnancies happen, and women should have access to safe and legal abortions. Antichoice laws only work to disadvantage poor and rural women and marginalize them in their ability to manage their own lives and families.
Stacey Kroto, Pinellas Park
Health law's achievements | Dec. 31, editorial
Positive effects evident
As a solo physician in private practice, I have already witnessed real and positive effects of the health reform law. I have a 23-year-old steroid-dependent asthmatic who became uninsured after losing his job. He has now been able to obtain health insurance on his mother's plan. This patient can now see me for regular examinations and, more important, afford his expensive asthma medications. This would not have occurred without passage of the Affordable Care Act.
As a small business owner, I will have an easier time paying for health insurance for my employees. I look forward to a 35 percent tax credit toward the cost of their premiums, which I pay for. This would not have occurred without passage of the ACA.
While health care reform is no longer at the forefront of the minds of the American people, repealing the health reform law has become the singular mission of a group of legislators new to Washington. It makes me wonder whether these new members of Congress have really talked with their constituents about the hardships they suffer at the hands of a broken health care system.
Mona V. Mangat, M.D., St. Petersburg
Health care law
Hardly family values
The Republican Party, as well as its partner the tea party, has claimed to be the party of family values. In keeping with its "values," its first plan of action is to repeal the health care act.
This "family value" group would deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, allow insurance companies to cancel coverage when you are sick, and place seniors once more in the "doughnut hole" for coverage.
Dependents under age 26 would once more lose coverage.
The only values reflected by these goals are the direct result of lobbying and campaign contributions by the insurance companies.
The Congressional Budget Office has plainly stated that the health care act not only pays for itself but lowers the deficit.
Beverly Ledbetter, Dade City
Fido's no doctor | Jan. 5, commentary
Pets make us feel better
Scientists are going to begin a multimillion-dollar research project to see if animals really help people with medical problems? Let me save them the time and money. The answer is a resounding yes.
Ask pet owners if they feel better with their pet beside them. Maybe the pet doesn't actually lower blood pressure or remove the need for medication, but there's something extra in having a pet that no pill can take the place of.
If I'm not feeling well, my dog never leaves my side until I'm better. Take those millions for research and put them to good use somewhere else.
Treva Dillon, New Port Richey
A worthy proposal to streamline, save Jan. 7, editorial
Take a regional approach
This editorial does not go far enough. The proposal to merge the Pinellas Planning Council and the Metropolitan Planning Organization should be expanded to cover all of Tampa Bay.
We live in a multicounty region. Every day thousands of citizens cross county lines for work and play, but each county makes decisions about how to direct growth in a vacuum. The results of this isolationist setup can be seen in the daily traffic jams on Bruce B. Downs and the massive big-box stores built on the Pasco County side of County Line Road to serve consumer demand from Lutz. Legislators from the Tampa Bay area should work together to establish a regional planning organization.
The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority was founded, in part, on the recognition that we can do more if we work together. We need a similar organization to coordinate regional planning.
Brian Willis, Tampa