Saturday, January 20, 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


Saturdayís letters: Itís not the word, itís the racism

Presidential precedent | Jan. 14Itís not the word; itís the racismThe Times went in the wrong direction and printed information that is rather useless. And that is strange. You usually get it right.I am talking about President Donald Trumpís prof...
Published: 01/19/18

Fridayís letters: Help for boaters against modern-day Ďpiratesí

Marine towing and salvageHelp against modern-day piracyAs an avid recreational boat owner and sixth-generation Floridian, I know thereís no better way to enjoy our stateís spectacular waters than taking your boat out. Unfortunately, the fun of boatin...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18

Thursdayís letters: All Americans need health care

Doctor: Trump got perfect score on cognitive test | Jan. 17All Americans need health carePresident Donald Trumpís extensive health exam has apparently declared him physically fit for office. As I was reading about the battery of tests he received...
Published: 01/17/18

Wednesdayís letters: St. Petersburgís culture, vibrancy impresses

St. PetersburgImpressive culture and vibrancyI recently visited Tampa Bay and celebrated New Yearís weekend in downtown St. Petersburg. I was awestruck by what I encountered and experienced. It has been several years since I last visited, and the tra...
Published: 01/16/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Jan. 19

Re: Walking leads to shocking catalogue of trash | Jan. 12 column Bring back anti-littering campaignJust came back from the beautiful, clean city of Singapore, where there is a $1,000 fine, plus community service for littering. I think a presiden...
Published: 01/16/18
Tuesdayís letters: Trumpís accomplishments unheralded

Tuesdayís letters: Trumpís accomplishments unheralded

President Donald TrumpAchievements go unrecognizedAre Americans even aware that our economy is healthier and growing much faster, that ISIS has been defeated and lost their territory, that China and other countries are buying more American goods and ...
Published: 01/16/18

Mondayís letters: Donít be fooled by drilling turnaround

Deal blocks drilling off Fla. | Jan. 10Donít be fooled by turnaroundWhile I am very grateful that Florida has been taken off the table regarding offshore oil drilling, it is clear this is a political move to champion Gov. Rick Scott as he conside...
Published: 01/14/18

Sundayís letters: Left wing late to the #MeToo cause

#MeTooDemocrats come late to the causeThe Times devoted an entire page to the #MeToo issues on Sunday. The ironies here for longtime observers are nearly boundless. Twenty years ago, folks like myself were called "prudes" and worse because we found P...
Published: 01/13/18

Saturdayís letters: A wall of towers isnít progress

Skyline takes shape | Jan. 7A wall of towers isnít progressFirst of all, once the 17 projects currently under way are completed, there will be no "skyline." There will be a wall of buildings blotting out the sun and sky. St. Petersburg has become...
Published: 01/12/18

Fridayís letters:

Gang raped at 17. Getting help at 65 | Jan. 7Help available for assault victimsEach sexual assault survivor has a unique story to tell, and Evelyn Robinsonís experience illustrates many of the emotions, and society stigmas, faced by survivors.Sex...
Published: 01/09/18
Updated: 01/11/18