Sunday, April 22, 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


Monday’s letters: Term limits don’t work

U.S. Senate campaignTerm limitsdon’t workGov. Rick Scott has begun his run for the U.S. Senate with TV ads promoting term limits for representatives and senators. Aside from the probability that this would require a constitutional amendment, I think ...
Published: 04/22/18

Sunday’s letters: Problems with high-speed rail

Thanks, Gov. Scott, for ghastly I-4 drives | April 18, Sue Carlton columnProblems with high-speed railIn her Wednesday column, the writer bemoaned the traffic on I-4 and blasted Gov. Rick Scott for turning down free government money for a high-sp...
Published: 04/21/18

Saturday’s letters: Don’t weaken rules on fisheries

Florida fisheriesDon’t weaken rules on fish stocksMembers of Congress are proposing changes to an important ocean law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, that would adversely affect coastal states including Florida.Since it...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Friday’s letters: We owe it to our children to teach them history

If we don’t understand past, future looks grim | April 19, Daniel Ruth columnThe history we owe our childrenIt’s not often I agree with Daniel Ruth, but this article was spot-on. I’m not sure when the schools started ignoring Germany’s World War ...
Published: 04/19/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun research can save lives

Gun ownershipCommon ground: Find the factsThere are many areas in the current debate about guns and gun ownership where both sides must agree to disagree. But there is one area where common ground ought to exist. That concerns the need for continuing...
Published: 04/18/18

Wednesday’s letters:

Poverty and plenty in bay area | April 7, editorialStruggling poor are not a priorityI commend your newspaper for continuing to produce real and relevant news, particularly the recent editorial pointing out that a prospering Tampa Bay should not ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for April 20

Bar Association celebrates Law WeekPresident Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1, 1958, as the first Law Day to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. Every year on this day, we reflect on the significance of the rule of law and rededicat...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Tuesday’s letters: Stop cooperating with ICE

Sheriff’s ICE policy blasted | April 10Pinellas should end partnership with ICEPinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri recently participated in a community conversation on his controversial agreement with ICE to voluntarily detain immigrants in the...
Published: 04/16/18

Sunday’s letters: The future of oyster production

Shell game | April 15Future of oyster productionThanks to Laura Reiley for an excellent synopsis of the current state of oyster production in Florida. The collapse of the Apalachicola oyster fishery is merely the latest example of the demise of a...
Published: 04/14/18

Monday’s letters: Public education is foundation of the nation

Voters beware of ballot deceptionApril 13, commentarySchools’ role underminedIt was with great pain that I read (not for the first time) that we must be aware of "ballot deception." Public schools were founded to make sure that future generations of ...
Published: 04/13/18