Cycle of addiction moves in next door and In London fire, cost put ahead of safety | June 25
When the 'free market' fails
Two front-page articles were tragedies that could have been averted with just the most minimal of regulations.
The fire in London had its roots in the cost of manufacturing and installation of an exterior cladding. An American manufacturer that can't sell its product here pushes it around the world. Add in a British governmental attitude of eliminating at least one regulation for each new one imposed, and you have the makings of a perfect storm. Take the top person in charge of the building safety guidelines. He stated that the use of "noncombustible" material on a building's exterior "limits your choice of materials quite significantly."
Then we read about the opioid crisis in Delray Beach. Here again it is partly due to Florida's disdain of regulations. This disdain helped the growth of our prescription drug epidemic and allows anyone to open a "sober house." The article notes that we license haircutters but not supervisors of people with substance abuse issues. Add in the fact that Florida is the training ground for insurance fraud and you have our next cottage industry.
These are prime examples of allowing the "free market" to police itself. Can anyone remember Big Pharma, insurance carriers or medical professionals lowering their prices to open affordable health care across the board? Some regulations and restraints on the "free market" are needed for the health and safety of all of our citizens.
Robert Spencer, Dunedin
Health care bill
Get rid of the middleman
True universal and affordable health care will never happen unless we eliminate the middleman — the insurance companies. Hospitals are failing and doctors are not getting paid, but the insurance companies are always rich, fat and happy. They don't insure patients — they insure that they will always make billions.
The premiums are determined by actuaries — very smart people who can manipulate data to guarantee the insurance companies will always come out on top. It's similar to a casino — they let you win a little, but the odds are stacked in their favor. The middleman will be hard to delete because insurance companies are rich and they pour millions into lobbying efforts — to insure that politicians always vote in their favor.
We need a government-run organization, with every working American paying the same percentage of their pay that they do now (or maybe even less). That would generate enough revenue to pay for 100 percent of all health care expenses on 100 percent of Americans — even those who are not working. Because the billions that now go to the middleman would be funneled into a single-payer system that insures all Americans instead of lining the pockets of rich scam artists who are getting in the way of health care.
John Ficca, Tampa
Aspects of a decent society
It took me a long time to understand what drove the conservative view of health care. Then after reading Pope Francis' encyclical I started to see what was driving their views. Conservatives are guided by principles like small government, low taxes and what the pope calls the techno-economic paradigm where economic growth fueled by innovation is the key to continued success.
This paradigm does not include considering the common good of mankind. This allows the GOP to produce a health care bill that lowers taxes to the rich, causes millions of Americans to lose their health insurance, allows the health care industry to increase rates on the most vulnerable Americans and do this with a clear conscience.
Progress, in the conservative view, is the automation of our manufacturing industry, which has eliminated millions of middle-class jobs; allowing business enterprises to move millions of jobs overseas; and, in the case of health care, eliminating sick people by denying them access to health care or charging them more then they can afford.
I agree with the pope's assertion that the main purpose of our government is to promote the common good of all of its citizens, which includes formulating policies that provide meaningful employment, affordable universal health care (meaning single-payer Medicare for all), a public school system that provides all citizens with a sound education, and safety nets to protect vulnerable citizens.
Robert Powell, Spring Hill
Rubio's act of sabotage
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., took steps to sharply raise health insurance premiums for Obamacare users and hurt individuals and families. What did he do? In December 2014, he gutted the risk corridor provision that basically allowed insurance companies with larger-than-expected losses to receive a share of profits from companies that had large profits. It was designed to carry insurers during the early years until things were more established nationwide.
Maybe Obamacare would have had big premium increases anyway. We'll never know. What we do know and should remember at Rubio's next election is Rubio sabotaged Obamacare and hurt millions of citizens by causing their health insurance premiums to sharply increase. It's like he slashed the tires of a new car and then said it's a bad car because the tires are slashed. Shame, Rubio, shame.
Howard Taylor, St. Petersburg
ACA helps millions
The top topic on Meet the Press last week was the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. They had bits of comments from citizens, including one woman who stated, "We elected Trump and we have to take what he says and believe what he says."
Well, while the office of the president demands and deserves respect, this is still a democracy and the office of the president does not mean blind trust. This is not a dictatorship.
I am fortunate and don't rely on an ACA plan, but if they are so sure the ACA is so bad we can only hope that our congressmen and women will start to work together toward something that will continue to help the millions it already helps.
Dawn Rinaldi, Tampa