The bureaucracy is the real cancer | Nov. 6, Robyn Blumner column
Government plans rife with fraud
Robyn Blumner's solution to the health care bureaucracy is to turn the whole operation over to the federal government, specifically to Obamacare. Who could have seen that coming?
I can only conclude that Blumner's age and financial status have kept her from the having to deal with Uncle Sam, but certainly she's visited a post office or two. The USPS is Medicare and Medicaid writ small, very small.
According to Blumner, health insurance administration costs 7 percent of premiums. That's a bargain given that Medicare alone gives away in excess of 9 percent of its funding to fraud.
Perhaps Blumner hasn't been paying attention, but all those "industrialized" nations that she so admires, the ones with the government health care, are rolling back their safety nets because they're broke. Several are teetering on the edge of fiscal collapse.
John Weiss, Spring Hill
The serious one | Nov. 9, commentary
Privatization already here
David Brooks lauds Mitt Romney's premium support (voucher) plan for Medicare as politically astute. Democrats can't accuse him of ending Medicare, while people like Brooks, who believe intense competition among private insurers could lead to innovation and cost reduction, will be able to see if that will really happen.
Where have Romney and Brooks been the last eight years? George W. Bush opened Medicare to private insurance as part of the Part D plan in 2003. They could have asked any senior about that. In the 1980s HMOs were added to Medicare. I'm sure there are many studies available.
I would also recommend that they rent Michael Moore's movie, Sicko. Richard Nixon relates how an insurance company executive explained to him how they could make money selling health insurance to seniors, a group that has the highest health care cost of any age group.
Francis O'Brien, Lutz
Single payer is the answer
Columnist David Brooks says Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney would reform Medicare by a staged implementation of "premium supports." That means helping Medicare recipients pay private insurance premiums.
We need only turn to Times columnist Robyn Blumner's articles detailing her experience in dealing with private health insurers. She could not even get some of them to quote her the price they were going to charge. How is a situation like that supposed to lead to the "intense competition" that Brooks, and presumably Romney, claim will reduce health care costs? How will more health insurance companies, each with their own set of obscenely overcompensated executives, lower costs?
No, there is only one way to lower costs, and that is single payer. Britain and Canada do it. So can we.
Charles E. Lehnert, Riverview
During the latest Republican presidential debate, we continued to hear most of the candidates state that we should leave the fate of our economy to a relatively regulation-free and relatively untaxed corporate capitalist system.
That may be fine for the 1 percent, whose wealth continued to increase during the recession, but let's not forget what a deregulated financial industry can do to the 99 percent. The 99 percent endured the loss of jobs, homes and retirement nest eggs.
Leaving the fate of our economy to an unregulated corporate environment simply keeps the American middle class and the poor at risk. Thoughtful regulation is and has been a good thing for America.
Gerard Meyn, Dunnellon
Obama is no FDR, and here's why | Nov. 9, commentary
Hope for cooperation
Ezra Klein's column certainly clarifies the differences that Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama have had dealing with their financial crises.
Obama's financial catastrophe began on Day One, whereas Roosevelt came into his three years into the Depression. Obama has also been dealing with a Republican Congress whose main objective is to derail him from a second term. Roosevelt had a huge majority of Democrats in both chambers eagerly wanting to work with him.
In a sense, Obama has taken on one of the worst catastrophes of the century, with not only no help from the Republicans but a doubling down on his struggle to right the economic ship. If Obama is re-elected, the Republicans won't have any reason to work against him. And maybe in the next term we can make progress getting this behind us.
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
Excessive response feeds higher costs Nov. 8, letter
Response saves lives
Hopefully the letter writer will never require a fire/EMS response. The reason you get a fire truck, rescue truck and an ambulance at an auto accident is that each vehicle carries different equipment. If the fire department paramedics are tending to the patient, the fire crew is also assisting or tending to leaking gas, oil or other fluids and road hazards. This is if they are not using the jaws of life to cut a trapped person out of the vehicle.
If the rescue truck is on another call when an "elderly person falls down," then the fire truck crew is trained in at least basic life support and tends to the patient while the next closest rescue truck is dispatched. The same with a heart attack. The brain begins to die in four to six minutes. If the rescue truck is out and no fire truck were dispatched, try holding your breath for about 10 minutes and see what that gets you.
Craig Cramer, Clearwater
Capital corruption is still alive and well Nov. 9, editorial
Tackle public corruption
Congratulations on identifying the most obvious reason for all the financial problems facing our economy: the purchase of our public officials by special interest elites. It's nice that your editorial heaps scorn on the lobbyists who buy these crooks. How about a little indignation for those who betray their trust and accept the bribes and write the laws regulating lobbyists?
Joseph Sullivan, Largo
Banish budget fictions | Nov. 9, commentary
Reforms fixed the program
Robert Samuelson creates his own fiction trying to justify negotiating away other people's money. In the process he is very economical with the truth.
In 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed into law an effort to address the demographic impact of the baby boomers on Social Security. The law was intended to secure the program's future for 50 years, until 2033. By any reasonable projection, it will achieve this. In the process the program has a surplus of about $2.5 trillion to fund the out years. That is as the law provided.
Anton Weigandt, Oldsmar