Monday, September 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday's letters: A model that is cheaper, better

Health reform

Excellent care for much less

In 2016, while trying to go through a blocked exit of a restroom in the Frankfurt International Airport, my wife slipped on the wet surface and fell, breaking the neck of her femur. After emergency treatment at the airport, she was rushed to the nearby medical hospital of Goethe University. She underwent emergency surgery performed by a professor who teaches the procedure. She received excellent care for the eight days she was hospitalized and had a thoroughly successful recovery.

Her total German medical costs were $8,000. Representatives from Florida Blue confirmed that a similar scenario in the United States would have cost somewhere between $80,000 and $100,000, depending on the status of the hospital.

While caring for my wife I had an opportunity to ask the business manager and doctors how Germany is able to provide superior quality service for 10 percent the cost in the United States.

Among the primary reasons:

• Tort reform: Non-economic damages are a fraction in degree, consistent with overall medical costs (10 percent). Germany does not have a personal injury lawyer industry.

• Doctors' compensation: Doctors told me that they can happily get by on 200,000 to 300,000 euros per year. Treating and caring for patients is their primary goal.

• Medical student support: Doctors do not graduate with huge debts that must be figured in to their overhead.

• Treatment-based pricing: Based on studies of procedures, modes of recovery and outcomes, a fixed reimbursement price is set for all treatments. For example, a broken neck of the femur cost an all-inclusive $6,500. The incentive is to do both an efficient and effective treatment as failure to do so results in the hospitals and doctors absorbing additional costs.

• Universal, single payer system: The exorbitant executive salaries, marketing costs and profits of the private insurance industry are eliminated. Supplemental private insurance is available but the general program, which is available to all citizens of Germany, is held in wide esteem by all the Germans we have spoken to. Remember, we had not paid anything into the system and our costs were 10 percent of what they would have been in the United States.

So, what businessperson would turn his or her back on real evidence that a product of the same or better quality could be had at 10 percent of the current asking price? And this is not just any product. Health care or the lack thereof affects our fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Why are these and other elements of the German health care model not under study and consideration by the U.S. Senate?

Stephen W. Ritch, St. Petersburg

Russian help welcomed | July 12

Scandal keeps growing

Two points on the Trump campaign meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya.

First, imagine that after receiving a message that a source may have something that would be "highly useful," three men walk into a bank, guns drawn and demand money. The manager tells the men that this is the bank's last day in business and they have no money on site. The men put their guns away and leave. Clearly they were misled on the value of this source. As a result, they attempted to gain an asset illegally, but failed. Have these men done anything wrong (legally, ethically or morally)?

Second, remember that Richard Nixon did not participate in the Watergate break-in. He was driven from office for attempting to cover up his knowledge of the event after it occurred.

The significance of Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign chairman meeting with a Russian attorney doesn't equal Watergate, but the number of events that keep arising may outweigh a single break-in.

John Day, Clearwater

Brew frontier | July 12

Don't ignore alcohol's toll

There's no question that an opioid misuse crisis is sweeping our country. Yet alcohol abuse continues with little or no mention.

Your newspaper would never dream of publishing a story about the "fun" aspects of drug use, yet recently — on page 1A — you featured a local craft brewery and its latest offerings.

Before you give front-page exposure such as this again, please consider this paragraph from "Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health" from 2016:

"Alcohol misuse contributes to 88,000 deaths in the United States each year; 1 in 10 deaths among working adults are due to alcohol misuse. In addition, in 2014 there were 47,055 drug overdose deaths including 28,647 people who died from a drug overdose involving some type of opioid, including prescription pain relievers and heroin — more than in any previous year on record."

Paul Cooper, St. Petersburg

Partisan politics

Brief era of good feelings

When Rep. Steve Scalise was shot there was a lot of posturing about unity. Columnists wrote about how Americans come together when the going gets tough. Well, the going got tough and where are we? Same old partisan politics.

The new health care bill should be developed by a group including both Republicans and Democrats. Their most important goal should be a program that insures health care for all Americans and does not include earmarks such as tax breaks for certain segments of the population. This cooperative effort should minimize the ability of a few on the radical left or right to hold the bill hostage.

Barry Kreiling, Brooksville


Saturday’s letters: We need stats that reflect our lives

We’re measuring the economy all wrong | Column, Sept. 18We need stats that reflect our livesMajor news outlets have uniformly declared the U.S. economy to be sizzling, on fire. This column was correct in wanting us to take a second, hard l...
Published: 09/21/18

Monday’s letters: Dr. Robert Judson made great contributions to Pasco-Hernando State College

A pioneer in Pasco-Hernando education | Sept. 19Robert Judson pushed education forwardI had the pleasure of working with the late Dr. Robert Judson, the former president of what is now known as Pasco-Hernando State College, for many years. During...
Published: 09/21/18

Sunday’s letters: Inequality hurts democracy

We’re measuring the economy all wrong | Column, Sept. 18Democracy needs equalityEconomic inequality and the concentration of wealth have achieved levels beyond the comprehension of most American wage earners today. Income inequality has ri...
Published: 09/21/18

Friday’s letters: Florida’s workers aren’t reaping benefits of a booming economy

Scott didn’t put them to work | Sept. 16Florida workers not reaping the benefitsFlorida has just surpassed a GDP of $1 trillion. However, workers in Florida are not reaping the rewards. A new report released by anti-poverty organization Ox...
Published: 09/21/18

Thursday’s letters: For the sake of all involved, don’t rush the Kavanaugh vote

Delay Senate vote on Kavanaugh | Editorial, Sept. 18Don’t rush something that will last a lifetimeThe Senate Judiciary Committee finds itself in a sticky wicket. The committee should take a slow measured course of action. Trying to rush th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18

Wednesday’s letters: How home rule can help fight Red Tide

Red Tide on march | Sept. 18How home rule can help fight Red TideAt the end of 2005, as Red Tide ravaged the beaches and intracoastal waterways of Southwest Florida, volunteers from the Suncoast Sierra Club formed a coastal task force to begin de...
Published: 09/18/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18

Monday’s letters: Are we paying for the wrong kind of military today?

$1 trillion here and there | Letter, Sept. 16Are we buying the right defense?I am weary of politicians of all persuasions handing our military a blank check — in particular the conservatives who rail against budget deficits and want to cut discre...
Published: 09/14/18

Sunday’s letters: Many laws increase our liberty

‘General welfare’ includeshealth | Letter, Sept.15Someone will pay for itMany politicians are making Medicare for All the cornerstone of their campaign. Many think tanks even say the government will save money, but they neglect to say how.Medicar...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18