Ban on drug testing upheld | Feb. 27
Welfare isn't constitutional right
The decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the ban on Florida's attempt to drug test welfare recipients is just another step in our country's inexorable march to the left. The decision states that there is no "special or immediate need" for testing and that there was no proven correlation between an individual with financial problems and a proclivity toward drug addiction or fraudulent or neglectful behavior. The court also alludes to such testing as restrictive of one's Fourth Amendment rights.
With 30 years of experience as a child protective caseworker and parole officer I can unequivocally attest to a definite correlation between drug and alcohol abuse and inclusion in the welfare and criminal justice systems.
The judges making this decision are missing the point entirely. Since when did the receipt of welfare benefits become a constitutional right? Welfare is a privilege with strings attached, not a right. No one is forced to accept welfare.
Neither I nor anyone else should be forced by my government to give my hard-earned (tax) money to someone who wants to sit around, drink beer, smoke cigarettes and get up only long enough to buy more scratch-off lottery tickets or make more babies they can't take care of.
Do all welfare recipients fit this description? Of course not. But many do.
Very simply, those who do not want to submit to testing simply don't have to apply for benefits.
America is rapidly becoming the "land of the spree and home of the knave."
Robert Kimball, Largo
DCF: Medicaid pays nursing home bill for rich | Feb. 24
A question of care
The Department of Children and Families is attempting to make legislators believe that individuals regularly transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to get into the Medicaid long-term care program. This is simply not the case.
Adult children are the largest single group of caregivers in this country. As an elder law attorney, I see children of clients regularly sacrifice their time and sometimes even their employment in order to become caregivers. It is cheaper to pay a family member $20 per hour than a stranger from a home health care company $75 per hour. Also, with the major cuts that nursing homes and assisted living facilities are facing, the use of family caregivers provides better care for residents, which in turn reduces lawsuits.
DCF is also targeting spouses' ability to refuse to pay for the sick spouse's care (which is allowed by federal law). In Florida, a spouse is not obligated to take care of the medical bills (or other creditor bills) of an ill spouse, even after death. This is not the case in states, such as Ohio, where spouses are actually required to get divorced in order for the well spouse to preserve some measure of assets to survive.
A community spouse in Florida is only allowed to keep $115,920 worth of assets, in addition to his or her homestead and one vehicle, when the sick spouse requires long-term Medicaid care. After working for decades, paying taxes, raising families and being fiscally responsible, one catastrophic medical crisis can rob a senior citizen of his or her faculties and dignity. Families who have worked hard are forced to spend all their hard-earned assets and make themselves destitute in order to obtain long-term care for a sick spouse.
Penalizing family members providing care at reduced costs and forcing well spouses to jeopardize their own health will ultimately create more citizens who become dependent on Florida taxpayers for assistance.
Laurie E. Ohall, Brandon
Benefits that cut your pay Feb. 24, Perspective
Tax code skews costs
The Times has published numerous articles on the state of medical care, but none of them have speculated on how our tax code has impacted the cost to the uninsured. Medical providers write off the difference between what they charge and what is paid by insurance or Medicare. This skews the true cost of any service and has caused medical billings to zoom out of control.
The amount providers accept from insurers is a reflection of what the real charge should be. It's time to start looking at what can be done to make care affordable for everyone, not just for the insured.
David Goldhill's theory, looking to reduce all coverage, takes us back in time 50 years to when we only had catastrophic coverage. Just imagine what such a lack of preventive and continuing care for chronic diseases that have become common (think diabetes) would do to us as a society.
Kathryn Wilson, St. Petersburg
Some justices skeptical of voting rules Feb. 28
It's a right, not entitlement
As a Hispanic-American, veteran of foreign wars and a disabled veteran, I was appalled at the "racial entitlement" statement by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the voting rights hearing. Apparently, Scalia knows little of the struggles, blood and deaths of whites, blacks and other minorities in guaranteeing the voting rights law.
This law is not a "racial entitlement" — it is an American citizen's right. I did not go to war to have this right dismissed by an appointed judge. He's supposed to be partial and examine the facts, not his feelings. The scary thing is, he's there for life.
Angel Andino, Wesley Chapel
Times change; law should too
Justice Antonin Scalia stated that voting could be construed as a entitlement. Justice Anthony Kennedy stated the Marshall Plan was good, "but times change."
If these claims have the least bit of substance, how can anyone claim the Second Amendment's right to bear arms applies to the 21st century? Hunting is no longer a necessity for providing food for one's family. Local militias have long since been replaced by both local and state police, sheriff's departments and the most powerful military force ever assembled by mankind.
If eliminating certain laws due to "changing times" applies to various laws, then doing away with the Second Amendment's right to bear arms falls into this category. Wasn't our Constitution written for the protection of "all people"? Should not all people have the right to go out in public without the fear of being gunned down by some modern-day Jesse James carrying his AK-47?
Jack Stawicki, Beverly Hills