The Times continues to cheerlead for more government dependence, this time by adding 1 million Floridians to Medicaid under Obamacare. You assert that this will drive down emergency room visits, when Medicaid patients have in fact been shown to use the ER twice as often as the uninsured, according to the Urban Institute.
ER visits have skyrocketed in Massachusetts following its Medicaid expansion, which was the main source of new insurance coverage following Romneycare. There are more ER visits since most doctors won't take Medicaid and Medicaid patients treat the ER like a walk-in clinic.
A Medicaid "insurance card" is not health care and covers barely over half the already low price fixed by Medicare — well under the cost of doing business for doctors. Hospitals are paid well, however, and would love the new federal money gravy train — further fueling health cost inflation — as would the new Medicaid HMOs, which skim 10 to 15 percent off the top.
The feds promise they will foot 100 percent for two years and then 90 percent until 2020. Even if the feds could keep that unrealistic promise, what happens just 7½ years from now? What happens when the feds run out of money or print so much they cause more inflation, further hurting the poor?
We are going in the wrong direction by making more people dependent on failed government programs. Freedom and government downsizing will create more prosperity and more people with better health insurance, and lower costs of medical care overall.
David McKalip, M.D., neurosurgeon, past chair, Florida Medical Association Council on Medical Economics, St. Petersburg
Study: Medicaid extends lives | July 26
This article says that residents of states "expanding Medicaid coverage are likely to live longer, be healthier and have better access to medical care." In fact, mortality rates in those states are 6 percent lower.
The Affordable Care Act could hugely impact the availability of Medicaid in Florida. And the feds would pay for most of it. But Gov. Rick Scott is rejecting Medicaid expansion and refusing those federal dollars — just as he did with our high-speed rail monies, which went to California.
The bottom line: Thousands of Floridians will be without health care because Scott has great disdain for Democrats and refuses to accept a thing from the government as long as Barack Obama is in power. I bet Scott has excellent medical insurance. He is so determined to make a statement that Florida residents will suffer from his stubbornness.
The funny thing: Nobody in Washington cares. They just send the money elsewhere and dismiss him as a fool. Unfortunately, we can't.
Robin Sterling, St. Petersburg
For reasonable gun limits | July 26, editorial
Controls are in order
Polls conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns showed that non-NRA gun owners and NRA gun owners agree on many things that the NRA calls gun control.
These include issues such as requiring criminal background checks on gun owners and gun shop employees, prohibiting those on the terrorist watch list from acquiring guns, mandating that gun owners report any thefts of their guns, denying concealed-weapons permits to those convicted of violent misdemeanors or who have domestic violence arrests, and giving concealed-weapons permits only to those who pass a safety test and are 21.
Approval ranged between 65 and 80 percent in both groups. More than 50 percent of gun owners were not in favor of the assault weapons ban being allowed to lapse.
This runs counter to what the NRA asks us to believe, including their assertion that Barack Obama is trying to repeal the Second Amendment. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has given the president an F grade.
I have hunted and used guns my whole life, and I support responsible gun ownership, but let's recognize a few glaring problems with current laws and fix them.
David Sullivan, Tampa
Europe's big role in our gun culture July 25, commentary
Politicians must act
This is not an issue that is going to go away, and it is not an issue that is going to be solved easily, especially with all the finger-pointing and finger-wagging.
If a politician like Mitt Romney can't stick to one view, and the president appears loath to even start talking about new legislation to restrict sales of assault weapons and extended clips and drums, we are not going to get anywhere.
Revealing the part played by European weapons manufacturers just makes the whole issue even messier, especially when you consider an even more bizarre hypocrisy: that the European Parliament banned the export of chemicals used for lethal injections in the United States.
Andrew Hessen, Tampa
State blinded by devotion to testing July 24, John Romano column
Expensive and ineffective
John Romano's choice of verbs when describing school tests is so accurate. Political? You bet. But I work for the school system, so I won't touch that one. Expensive? If only that money were directed to areas of better need. Dangerous? We have yet to see the repercussions, but they're coming. Shortsighted? I think so. The big picture is our young making positive changes in the world. Are they going to do that based on test scores alone?
Yes, reform is necessary. Change is vital. Accountability is a must. But spending millions of dollars on more ways to test the students has become insanity.
Don't put so much pass/fail emphasis on a single test. Why is class work not the measurement or at least a big part of it? Our careers are not measured on one single anything.
Melanie Coleman, Tierra Verde
Know rules of the road
During our recent heavy rainstorms, I have observed drivers using their emergency flashers while moving. According to the Florida Driver License Handbook, Section 5.26, "Four-way emergency flashers should only be used while your vehicle is legally stopped or disabled on the highway or shoulder."
Tom Jennings, Clearwater
Just shut them down
What is the purpose of a national political convention? What is decided? Nothing. It is obsolete, an anachronism.
In days of yore, national conventions decided the nomination. We would stay up through the wee hours of the morning listening to endless, boring roll calls until a decision was reached.
Now state primaries decide the nomination. The platform has been spelled out by all the candidates in the primaries.
What a waste of millions of dollars to pamper the few chosen convention delegates. What a lot of frustration and disruption in the lives of local citizens where the convention is held.
The only people who benefit are politicians getting "free" publicity for speeches made.
National conventions as they now are conducted are an obsolete tradition that should have expired years ago.
Elinor Van Dyke, Clearwater
Better use of that money
It has occurred to me that, given the fact that both parties know whom their candidates will be, they pass on their conventions, with the parties and local host cities donating the money instead to something worthwhile — paying down the national debt, health care for uninsured, homelessness, schools, police and fire departments. Just a thought.
Cynthia Gay, Dunedin
Iorio again comes to the rescue July 25, Sue Carlton column
Truly a public servant
Pam Iorio has served our community well and is now prepared to bring her no-nonsense style to the Children's Board. After two terms as a Hillsborough County commissioner, a decade as supervisor of elections, and two terms as mayor of Tampa, she has defined the "serve" in public service. Perhaps we should consider renaming our fair city Pampa in her honor.
Patricia Naegle, Tampa