Simplify insurance options
Being self-employed with pre-existing conditions, I anxiously awaited signing up for Obamacare. I have not done so for several reasons not related to the trouble with the website.
Part of the problem with Obamacare and all insurance, for that matter, is the number of choices of policies. There are 106 choices in the marketplace for Florida. Making an intelligent choice for myself and my family requires research into what each policy covers, deductibles, etc. Additionally, I had to research which of my preferred doctors accept the different policies available. This is a daunting task for anyone, but especially those not familiar with securing insurance.
All insurance should be simplified. There are bronze, silver, gold and platinum policies, but there are at least 10 silver policies for just one insurer, all with different coverages and deductibles. Doctors should also be required to accept all forms of insurance, including Medicaid, rather than cherry-picking the most lucrative.
For those people who have junk policies that do not meet the minimum requirements and are being canceled, they should be happy that they are canceled. People have favorite charities, and I am guessing the insurance companies are not one of them.
The main success of Obamacare is that it is bringing to light all of the problems in the insurance industry and with health care providers. Hopefully, changes will be made and the status quo is in the past.
Cheryl Colvin, Odessa
Time to end Big Sugar's sweet deal Nov. 10, editorial
Americans pay less for sugar
American consumers pay less for sugar than consumers in most other developed countries and have for years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that October sugar prices in Mexico were 27 cents a pound. With U.S. prices at 26 cents a pound, it's more likely that candymakers who have moved abroad did so because they pay 50 cents an hour in Mexico's sugar industry compared to $20 an hour plus benefits in the United States. World sugar prices are currently 28 cents a pound delivered to America. Global giants like Hershey, Wrigley and Mars have been reporting record profits and expanding factories across the United States.
The real question is why these giant, global food companies have not passed along any of the savings they've reaped with farm-level sugar prices down 50 percent over the last two years. So much for the Times' claim that if food companies get lower-cost sugar, consumers get cheaper food. Instead, these multinational food conglomerates pocket huge profits and use their world-class marketing departments to get sweeter media coverage.
Absent the recent flood of subsidized, government-owned Mexican sugar imports, compliments of NAFTA, sugar policy has operated at no cost for more than a decade — the only major farm program to do so.
U.S. Sugar has been farming in Florida for 83 years, and we've invested more than a billion in the last decade in our South Florida sugar and citrus operations — employing thousands of fellow Floridians. Florida's sugar industry provides $3 billion a year to Florida's economy. Sugar farmers have paid more than $400 million for restoration and as a result, water leaving our farms is some of the cleanest water in the entire system.
The complex Everglades ecosystem flows from Orlando to the Florida Keys and is now home to more than 7 million people. Tempering 100 years of development and drainage with today's environmental goals and standards requires much more than cleaning farm water. That's why state and federal agencies are engaged in long-term efforts to redesign the system. That's fact, not opinion.
Robert E. Coker, senior vice president, U.S. Sugar Corp., Clewiston
When will the cries of children be heard? Nov. 10, John Romano column
We all have a role to play
John Romano's column on the tragic deaths of too many of our children asked if Michael McMullen cried loud enough for Tallahassee to finally hear. I appreciate him raising this important issue, but the real question is: Did he cry loud enough for any of us to hear?
The Department of Children and Families is not solely responsible for our children. Every single level of government, community and individual has a role to play to ensure our children are safe and that they have every opportunity to reach their full potential. DCF and its community partners only get involved with families after a child is harmed. What are we collectively doing to prevent the harm in the first place?
Our local Children's Board of Hillsborough County has taken a bold direction to focus on initiatives and services to make sure our children are healthy, developmentally on track, ready to succeed in school, and are living in supportive and supported families. Similar initiatives are going on in Pinellas County under the Juvenile Welfare Board.
Each of us needs to become involved in any way we can, by becoming a Guardian ad Litem, foster parent or adoptive parent. Or we have to become the eyes and ears for vulnerable children, lending a hand to parents who are struggling by mentoring a child or making the call to the abuse hotline at 1-800-962-2873 when we observe situations involving a child that can lead to harm.
Ann M. Doyle, regional administrator, Devereux Florida, Tampa
Growth, jobs tied to trade pact | Nov. 12
Middle-class jobs disappear
This article on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership states that it could create 250,000 jobs if passed. That has always been the rationale for passing these big trade agreements. But given the history of the last 30 years, it has not worked out well for the middle class or poor.
What the article doesn't state is the huge damage past trade deals have done. Whole industries have gone away, leading to the destruction of people's lives and ghost towns. These "free" trade agreements have played an essential part in the destruction of the middle class in America. Many jobs that used to sustain the middle class have migrated to other countries due to these trade pacts.
We have been running a negative trade balance since the Nixon years, and these trade agreements have been partially responsible. We can no longer afford to be the purchaser of last resort, absorbing the world's excess output. This has cost us much in the past, and this trade agreement will only make the situation worse.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach