An assault on women's health | Feb. 14, commentary
Scare tactics on budget cuts don't hold up
I can appreciate Barbara Zdravecky's concern about the potential loss of federal funding to Planned Parenthood. However, her logic is flawed.
She provides an example of a 34-year-old mother of two with no insurance who waited too long to get a Pap smear because she couldn't afford it. Sadly, she now has cervical cancer. I sympathize with this woman, but what does it have to do with any "proposed" cuts in federal funding to Planned Parenthood? It doesn't. No cuts have yet been made, only proposed.
By law, the federal government cannot provide funding for abortions. Yet Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion agency in the country. Attempts to defund this organization are nothing new. With a $1.5 trillion budget deficit lingering, I for one won't mind my tax dollars not going to this organization.
Last, Zdravecky makes it sound like federal tax dollars are the only funding Planned Parenthood receives. This is not true, as an article on Page 2A accurately reflected. Only 33 percent of the funding comes from our federal tax dollars in the form of grants.
Frank S. Fischer, Spring Hill
Ask supporters for help
My suggestion to Planned Parenthood is to take its case to the people. Ask them to press the donate button on your website to help make up the $317 million shortfall. If your product (whatever that may be) is worthy of our hard-earned money, then the donations should be flying in.
In reality, this is nothing more than the government shutting off the money spigot to a private organization that should be able to finance its own operations. If consumers want it, they will pay for it.
True health freedom will come only when government stops picking the winners and the losers.
Joe Haynes, Seminole
An assault on women's health | Feb. 14, commentary
It disgusts me to hear people proclaiming that they want less or no abortion, and then defunding the very health services that could prevent it.
I've heard their lies about Planned Parenthood, but both my daughter and I found invaluable help there at various times in our lives.
The disdain for women that these congressmen exhibit deserves nothing but contempt. It was a sad day for our country when they acquired so much control over our lives. Conservative? I don't think so. True conservatives don't poke around in people's bedrooms.
Eileen O'Sullivan, St. Petersburg
Social scientist sees bias within | Feb. 13
Correcting liberal bias
Bravo to the Jonathan Haidt and the group of social scientists who have recognized, and are seeking to reduce, the amount of liberal bias among members of their group.
Finding such bias in an organization that purports to seek the truth is appalling and weakens their credibility, to say the least. It is refreshing that this group is recognizing this fact and attempting to do something about it.
Isn't it about time for journalists to do the same?
Vickie Kazanski, Wesley Chapel
Cultural baggage | Feb. 13, Maxwell column
Still much to learn
Bill Maxwell's commentary distills the problems associated with racial baggage expertly, and with the proper tone, which has been lost in too many of his stories dealing with ethnic issues.
Unfortunately, as a black professor, I too have often heard that "blacks should just get over it," as opposed to learning what happened and why, or how such problems could be avoided in the future. Maxwell's article highlights that there is still much to learn about our American family.
Dr. Keith Berry, Tampa
Back from the brink | Feb. 12
I would like to commend Bailey Monarch for her inspiration and bravery in speaking out about her anorexia. The secret shame of this disorder affects millions and creeps into all aspects of their daily lives. By speaking out she has given courage to the thousands of young women, and indeed men and women of all ages, who suffer from this illness.
Without treatment, up to 20 percent of people with serious eating disorders die. No one has to spend a lifetime with this disease when there is help available.
Joy Tapper, Tampa
A future without schoolbooks | Feb. 17
Don't give up on books
The proposal to use only "electronic materials" in public school classrooms instead of conventional textbooks is misguided. One key difficulty is "to keep students from inappropriate websites," as the article suggests.
My experience as a former teacher is that students are able to and will look at anything they wish without the teacher's knowledge, because the lids on the machines effectively block teacher oversight. As a student myself many years ago, my distractions were limited to the sights of springtime outside the window of the non-air-conditioned classroom, a reverie quickly noticed and sharply corrected by the teacher.
I also question the claim that a lost e-reader can be replaced at a "price barely more than one textbook," at least based on the cost of my own e-reader.
William G. Sayres, Largo
Fla. Medicaid tweaks urged | Feb. 16
Making Medicaid better
One of the largest challenges facing Florida is reforming our Medicaid program. Millions of Floridians rely on Medicaid for their health care needs, but our current system is inefficient, unsustainable and unaffordable. The Florida Senate's approach to Medicaid reform focuses on improving the care provided to our fellow citizens while controlling the ever-increasing program costs that have come to dominate our state budget.
Florida's Medicaid program began as a partnership with the federal government to give our state the flexibility to provide health benefits to citizens most in need of support. However, the size and scope of the program have expanded, leaving Florida's current program undermined by limited physician participation, extensive fraud and poor quality controls.
The Senate's proposed reforms improve both access and care by providing primary care physicians to Floridians receiving health care through the new Medicaid program. The bill focuses on value and outcomes rather than reimbursements for procedures by moving to a managed care system that reduces unnecessary costs while improving the quality of care. It adds common business practices to Medicaid contracts, including surety bonds, guaranteed savings requirements and measurable performance standards. The newly designed program will also attract more physicians to participate by increasing Medicaid rates, ensuring they are paid promptly, and providing meaningful liability protection.
It is important to recognize that our Medicaid program protects and provides for many of Florida's most vulnerable citizens, including our friends and neighbors. While we intend to restructure the system to provide more flexibility, efficiency and personal responsibility, we will ensure Medicaid remains a safety net for those in need.
State Sen. Joe Negron, District 28, Stuart
Florida State Fair
Fried food festival
The more I read about the Florida State Fair, the more I wonder why anyone would attend. I have been to many state fairs in other states, and have never seen anything quite like the one here.
This event is not much more than a deep-fried food festival with a midway in the middle. I attended one time, in 2007, and it seems to be getting worse every year. Parents are pushing more and more for healthier foods in the schools, yet they take their kids to an event that serves obesity and heart attacks on a stick.
David Feeney, Dunedin
Look for alternatives
I usually enjoy reading Times columnist Ernest Hooper. Seeing the fair food he was trying made me feel sad. How about trying to find seven healthy food choices at the fair? That's all I'm saying.
Mary-Anne Goodrid, Clearwater