Cancellations include 'junk' insurance | Nov. 9
Unneeded coverage is real 'junk'
"Junk insurance" may not be the way to go, but at least those who purchased it did so with freedom of choice and not directed by some bureaucrat in Washington.
And speaking of "junk insurance," how about the 50-year-old bachelor, nondrinker, non-drug user without children, who loses his insurance because of Obamacare requirements. Now he is forced to select from a limited number of policies that cost up to twice as much as his cancelled insurance and require coverage for pregnancy, child dental care, alcohol and drug rehab. Now I call that real "junk insurance."
Dayle R. Stevens, Largo
Wider options for care
This week, health care leaders and advanced registered nurse practitioners from every field will convene at the Statewide Nursing Summit in Tampa. ARNPs and other health care professionals will tell you that Florida ARNPs are qualified and ready to provide primary care to patients, if only the Florida Legislature would allow them to do so to the full extent of their education and training.
Florida places restrictions on the state's more than 14,000 actively licensed ARNPs, who could provide up to 80 percent of the primary care needs for patients.
ARNPs have graduate medical degrees and are required to meet national certification standards, including extensive practical training. As physician costs continue to rise, ARNP restrictions cost Florida a great deal more than if ARNPs were able to practice to the full extent of their education and training.
The Legislature's accountability agency has estimated that expanding the scope of practice for ARNPs and physician assistants would save Florida up to $44 million a year in Medicaid costs alone. If practice restrictions for ARNPs were removed across the entire Florida health care system, the state could realize $339 million in cost savings.
Florida TaxWatch and the TaxWatch Center for Health & Aging recommend removing barriers to practice and care for ARNPs to improve access and quality of health care for Floridians.
Tamara Y. Demko, director, Florida TaxWatch Center for Health & Aging, Tallahassee
Beyond baseball, all eyes on Trop | Nov. 10
Put in a convention center
Absent from this article on Tropicana Field is the idea that has the most merit. A restaurateur in the Grand Central district of St. Petersburg has called for the Trop to be converted to a world-class convention center, serviced by an authentic streetcar line along Central Avenue, connecting the Pier to the gulf beaches.
Pinellas County is a world-famous tourist destination and we lack a major convention center. With the right design, complementary businesses, and our signature ambience, there may be a bigger year-round economic impact with a convention center than with professional baseball.
Jeannie Cline, St. Petersburg
A line in the sand | Nov. 10
How not to behave
Once in a while a story shows us all how not to behave. Here's a suggestion for the residents of Anna Maria Island: Go all-in. Tell the emergency responders who put out your fires and administer CPR to your residents but don't live "on island" that they're not welcome to visit; tell the power company linemen who rescue you from the dark after a storm that they can't bring their kids to your beach; tell the home health care workers who minister to your frailties to get lost on the weekends.
Next, you should generate your own power, haul away and dispose of your own waste, pump your own water, police your own crime, and re-elect Mayor SueLynn. Just let her know — none of you are welcome "off island."
Mark Zewalk, Tampa
AWOL America | Nov. 10
Many have served
In his review of Andrew Bacevich's book, Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country, Jonathan Yardley repeats a statistic that I believe is often misinterpreted. He writes, "Military action is now undertaken by a small 'warrior class' — less than 1 percent of the total population."
Technically, that's correct. Based on the Census Bureau's 2012 estimate of the U.S. population of 314 million, and a military strength of 2.17 million, that works out to 0.7 percent of the population serving. Many people hear that statistic and come away with the belief that less than 1 percent of the population has ever served in the military.
However, there is a lot of turnover in the military, with most individuals serving a few years and returning to civilian life. The VA estimates that there are 22 million living veterans. Compared to the total U.S. population, that means that about 7.6 percent of Americans have served or are currently serving.
But even that is an inapt comparison. Americans younger than 17 cannot serve, so it's more accurate to compare the number of veterans and those currently serving to the number of Americans aged 17 or older, which is about 240 million. This gives us a figure of about 10 percent of Americans who are serving now or have served in the past. That's a lot different than the oft-misstated, "Less than 1 percent of Americans have served in the military."
Craig Lincoln, Clearwater
A smarter path on sentencing Nov. 11, editorial
Relief for prisons, budget
The Times has recently run several articles and an editorial on the increasing cost of Florida's growing inmate population. Gov. Rick Scott is proposing opening prisons he had earlier closed to accommodate this increase.
Now would be the time to have a discussion on decriminalizing the possession and use of small quantities of marijuana, small enough for personal use but not large enough for dealers to sell. More importantly would be an examination of treating the addiction of drug users rather than incarcerating them.
Such an approach might significantly reduce Florida's inmate population and provide relief to the overburdened criminal system. A portion of the savings accrued would easily fund drug treatment programs.
Robin George Yates, Bayonet Point