Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday's letters: Home care for seniors threatened

Medicare health services

Protect home care for seniors

Last year, as part of its ongoing effort to reduce Medicare fraud and generate program savings, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched a new regulatory requirement known as Pre-Claim Review for home health services. Five states were initially selected to try out the program, including Florida. The program is underway in Illinois and is set to begin in Florida on April 1.

Under Pre-Claim Review, a third-party contractor is required to decide whether doctor-prescribed home health care is "medically necessary" before Medicare will approve payment for a patient's care. Though originally intended to ensure that American tax dollars were put to good use, the program's rollout has been marred with problems.

Not only has Pre-Claim Review seemingly done nothing to address fraud, it has led to massive delays in home health care and a slew of improper denials that interfere in the delivery of timely care for older Americans. Since implemented in other parts of the country, technical failures and extra paperwork have taken clinicians away from patients to fulfill administrative requirements. Doctors, who are best equipped to make health care decisions, saw their own prescriptions overridden by third-party bureaucrats who have never had contact with their patients.

Nearly 350,000 Floridians depend on Medicare home health each year. It is a safe and effective means for patients to recover from illness and injury in the comfort of their own homes. It's also highly cost-effective compared to care provided in the hospital or skilled nursing setting, underscoring why Medicare should be expanding access to home health, not restricting it.

As a representative of Florida's home health agencies, I strongly urge our federal lawmakers to act immediately to protect seniors' home health care by asking Medicare to stop this flawed program from being implemented across our state.

Kyle Simon, Tampa

The writer is director of government affairs and communications for the Home Care Association of Florida.

White House spins at whirlwind pace | Feb. 3

Beware religious influence

When President Donald Trump touts free speech for churches, do you want a local mega-church or some cult controlling your local government? What will this mean for non-Christians, or Christians of the "wrong" church?

It is imperative that we keep state and church separate, as advocated by our founding fathers. After all, they lived under a state church and knew what it meant.

While modern Christianity is not as repressive as other religions, what happens if the government is taken over by extremists who can control your entire life? You may not like many of the latest social policies, but individuals are not forced to live by them. However, that may not be true when specific a religion controls government and implements its social policies (no divorce, no education or equal opportunity for females, etc.). This is a dangerous path and it's imperative we stop it now.

Judy Adkins, Tampa

Conservative pick sets up showdown | Feb. 1

Corporations as people

Judge Neil Gorsuch in the Hobby Lobby case determined that a business is a person. I don't understand that ruling. Hopefully this question will get answered. A health corporation defrauds Medicare out of a billion dollars, gets fined $100 million, no one goes to jail and the CEO gets a golden parachute of $100 million. I on the other hand am a doctor and I defraud Medicare out of million dollars. Do I get a 10 percent fine, or probation, or am I going to jail? My sense is I get all three.

So where is justice under the law? Please, Judge Gorsuch, explain this. I'm just a regular retired guy looking for a simple answer.

Joe Jones, New Port Richey

Trump: Putin is not lone 'killer' | Feb. 6

Insult to U.S. military

Donald Trump, during his primary campaign, scorned Sen. John McCain as "no hero" because McCain had been captured in Vietnam. Now he has gone so far as to dismiss our brave service members, who have fought for 15 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, as "killers," morally equivalent to the brutal and criminal Vladimir Putin of Russia. In an interview with Bill O'Reilly, Trump, who was again defending Putin, said: "We've got a lot of killers. What do you think ? You think our country's so innocent?" Then Trump referenced the war in Iraq.

I have taught ROTC students at the University of Tampa for 40 years. They have always been among the most disciplined, polite and intelligent students I have had in my classrooms. The same is true of the enlisted men and women I taught for eight years at MacDill Air Force Base.

Sixty thousand brave young men and women in the U.S. military have been wounded or died during our conflicts in the Middle East. But to our new president they are "killers" on par with the disgraceful Putin and his thugs. Our president needs to apologize to our military families for his thoughtless and stupid remarks.

Gary Luter, Tampa

Keep cigars in Cigar City | Feb. 6, commentary

Company's philanthropy

It would be a sad day for many in the Tampa Bay area if the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. were to fail because of federal regulations. Not included in Dominic Calabro's column is the philanthropic work done by the Newman family. They have been staunch supporters of education both here and in the Dominican Republic for decades. Their support of Southeastern Guide Dogs is legendary.

Regulations that injure American businesses are counterproductive. The Newmans have always discouraged underage smoking. Their market is adults. Bringing in Cuban cigars free of regulatory onus while imposing financial burdens on local businesses flies in the face of our present political trend of keeping jobs and companies in America.

Bruce LeBaron, St. Petersburg


Wednesday’s letters: First day of school brings a frightening new world

Goodbye for now | Aug. 14First day of schoola scary time nowMonday morning we took our youngest child to start her school life proper. It was bittersweet and tugged on my heart strings for many reasons, but one was that her first day of kindergar...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/14/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Aug. 17

Re: County authorizes takeover of SunWest Park | Aug. 10‘A poor idea from the startWith no fanfare whatsoever, we now have a new park that no one I know ever seems to use or even know where it is. If it is bringing hordes of tourists to our cou...
Published: 08/13/18

Tuesday’s letters: Habitat should help the poor, not hurt them

Habitat lender choice blasted | Aug. 12Help, don’t hurt, poorAs a Habitat for Humanity admirer, donor and volunteer, I was disappointed to read how Habitat for Humanity’s Hillsborough County affiliate reportedly stumbled in delivering its mission...
Published: 08/10/18
Updated: 08/13/18

Monday’s letters: A gun or a vote: danger is relative

‘I went off the deep end’ | Aug. 10A gun or a vote: danger is relativeAt the demonstrable risk of having someone lose his fragile temper, grab his guns, storm out his door and speed to my home to shoot me for saying so (and why NOT, Florida Legis...
Published: 08/10/18

Sunday’s letters: July’s letter of the month is ‘Time for more civil debate.’

July letter of the monthTime for more civil debate"Politics" is an activity which involves power and control, arriving at decisions based on differing interests. Normally, leaders weigh the needs of the individual with the abilities of the country. C...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18

Saturday’s letters: A team effort made USF preeminent

USF and preeminenceA team effort vaulted USF The University of South Florida’s designation as a preeminent state research university is a prestigious accomplishment and a tribute to the hard work of faculty, staff and students and USF System Presiden...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18

Friday’s letters: Don’t let pollution be our legacy

Algae blooms amid cuts | Aug. 8Brown can’t be the new greenThis headline should have said "Republicans continue to pave their way across Florida, pollute the water supply and destroy animals and their habitat." The Republicans have controlled Tal...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/09/18

Wednesday’s letters: Girl’s drowning death is one of two tragedies

Mother: Dead girl now ‘pure’ | Aug. 7Two tragediesThis is another tragedy of a parent who became overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for an autistic child. But an equally bad sequence of events is likely to happen in the days and months t...
Published: 08/06/18
Updated: 08/07/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for Aug. 10

Jacqueline Road being misusedI have issued complaints to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, traffic division and also a letter to the sheriff and have had very little positive response.We have an issue on Jacqueline Road with speeding vehicles and...
Published: 08/06/18

Monday’s letters: Enough with praise for Pier sculpture

Aerial art to billow at Pier | Aug. 3Pier art: boon or boondoggle?Well, finally! The Janet Echelman sculpture project has been approved. The dust has settled and now, at the cost of $2.8 million an over-priced, glorified flag will be flapping ove...
Published: 08/03/18