New dispute arises: policy cancellations | Oct. 30
Medicare for all is the solution
All the recent hoopla about the Affordable Care Act has generated a lot of heat but not much light. In all the angry finger-pointing, both parties have missed the main point. Obamacare is flawed and cumbersome for the same reason that our existing "system" doesn't work: It is a health insurance system, not a health care system. The obvious answer is a single-payer health care system, Medicare for all.
The administration is running into problems with technology and with cancellation of existing policies precisely because Obamacare is an insurance-based program. So we have to navigate insurance exchange websites, that must then connect up with insurance company databases, that must then correlate with existing insurance coverage, and so on. It's bound to be inefficient and confusing, and also costly.
Insurance companies take at least 20 cents out of every dollar Americans spend on health care; Medicare takes only 2 or 3 cents on the dollar. Health insurance companies are massively profitable, yet most Americans either can't afford health insurance or are very dissatisfied with the coverage they have, which is not only expensive but often not there for us when we need it most.
Those Americans fortunate enough to be on Medicare are very happy with it. Most of us, including President Barack Obama, knew that a single-payer Medicare for all system was by far the best way to reform American health care. But it didn't happen because it wasn't "politically doable." Most of our congressmen and state legislators are more responsive to the corporate interests who pay for their election campaigns than the people they claim to represent. This is true of both Republicans and Democrats. So single payer was never on the table because the health insurance lobby is simply too powerful.
If Obamacare ever gets off the ground, it will be helpful to many low-income Americans who will be able to afford health insurance. But it is a huge windfall for the health insurance industry, just as the Bush administration's prescription drug benefit was a huge windfall for the pharmaceutical industry.
Andrew Rock, Tampa
The price of punishment Oct. 27, Robyn Blumner column
Punishment is a bargain
Robyn Blumner uses a straw man argument (prison vs. education) to make her point that incarceration is too expensive for society to bear. She states that California spends $47,000 to incarcerate a person for a year compared to $8,500 to educate a public school student. This is not an apples-to-apples comparison.
The question before a criminal court is to jail or not to jail a particular convicted offender. According to the U.S. Justice Department, more than 23 million criminal offenses were committed in 2007, resulting in approximately $15 billion in economic losses to the victims and $179 billion in government expenditures on police protection, judicial and legal activities, and corrections. If we divide $194 billion by 23 million, the cost is $8,435 per crime. Using Blumner's preferred comparison, if imprisonment prevents just one crime, California will save approximately what it costs to educate one child for a year. It is difficult for people behind bars to commit crimes against society, be it rape, burglary or embezzlement. The preamble to the Constitution lists "to insure domestic tranquility" among the duties of government.
Our house was burglarized and the investigating officer explained to us that many offenders travel from town to town, break into houses, buy drugs, travel to another city where they pawn the stolen goods and repeat. If we make a lowball estimate that this happens once a week, the cost to society is $210,835 per year — more than a four-to-one return on our investment in incarceration. But this does not measure the intangible loss of peace of mind and our freedom to do what we would otherwise do but for the fear of crime. The price of punishment is a bargain compared to the cost of crime.
William L. Bassett, Clearwater
The importance of the afterlife | Oct. 27
This article raises the question of what one would do if faced with imminent death and the perishing of humanity. It was the writer Isaac Asimov, I believe, who, when asked what he would do if he knew he had 10 days left to live, answered: "Type faster."
Keith McCulloch, Tampa
Red-light cameras opposed | Oct. 28
Red means stop
After reading this article it is clear to me that the people who want to get rid of the red-light cameras are the ones who run red lights.
One person the Times quotes is against cameras because "she knows dozens of people" who have been ticketed. Another person said it caused him to change his behavior after the city installed them: He bought software for his GPS that will tell him when he's approaching a red-light camera.
What is wrong with these people? Can't they stop at a red light? Is that too much to ask?
Robert G. Bond, St. Petersburg