How doctors die | March 11
Pain management at end of life
I want to thank the Tampa Bay Times for publishing "How doctors die" on Sunday.
Dr. Ken Murray's explanation of how physicians approach the end of life was insightful. He points out that a vast majority of doctors oppose heroic medical measures and that they decide for a path to a peaceful death that includes pain management and comfort care. Murray aptly described hospice care.
The Tampa Bay region is fortunate to have well-established and highly regarded hospice programs that address the challenges associated with life-limiting circumstances. Hospice professionals provide patients — and their loved ones — the care to help them cope with a terminal condition, ensuring that no one faces this time in their life alone and unsure.
No one — including doctors — wants to die. But it is an undeniable fact that we all will. If you or a loved one is facing a demanding medical diagnosis, I urge you to read Murray's commentary. Then consider contacting your local hospice organization. With hospice, you will find compassionate support and comprehensive care to help you make the most of life in the time remaining.
Kathy L. Fernandez, president, Chapters Health System, Tampa
Judge: Pay cuts illegal | March 7
Contract is binding
A big thanks to Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford for standing up to Gov. Rick Scott and effectively telling him that he cannot saddle the state of Florida workforce with his budget crisis. Scott apparently didn't know about (or simply ignored) the 1981 decision by the Florida Supreme Court that ruled that while the Legislature could cut employee salaries, it could not breach the current contract it has with existing employees. Like it or not, you can't ignore the ruling simply because you don't agree with it.
Imagine you were a waiter or waitress and your employer hired you with a contract that stated you would be paid hourly wages and tips. You agree with the contract with the small hourly wage because of the tips you'll receive. Later, the restaurant began to have financial trouble and your manager decided he could remedy that by no longer paying the wait staff their tips (or their hourly wage). Does that seem fair to you?
Chris Burgess, Dunedin
Voter fraud rarer than shark attacks March 10
Holding down the vote
Let's be clear: There is virtually no voter fraud in Florida or the United States as a whole. The Republican Party, which claims to be more moral and patriotic, is trying to deny the vote to citizens in states where they are the party in power. Those most affected are the poor, elderly, minorities and students — mostly those more apt to vote for Democrats. The lone exception is absentee ballots, which run more to Republicans even though they don't require picture ID.
When you put the League of Women Voters out of business with threats of fines, what does that say about you?
The ideal situation is that every citizen cast a vote. That is democracy at its best. Don't tell me it is no problem for you so you don't see what all the fuss is about. It is a problem for many others for a variety of valid reasons.
David Sullivan, Tampa
Scott says PIP fraud costs $1 billion | March 9
Need for reform obvious
I recently moved to Tampa from Atlanta and on the first day noticed that half the billboards in town have the faces of attorneys on them. At first I thought it was a joke. Then I bought my car insurance.
Come on, folks, you live in a state where a major amphitheater is named after a referral line for accident lawyers and doctors. What more proof do you need that the system has to be reformed?
Chet Meisner, Lutz
Reform bill for assisted living facilities fails March 10
Loyalty to lobbyists
One line in this article, "The House refused to take up the measure amid heavy lobbying by powerful industry leaders," reflects the loyalties of our representatives. They care little about frail seniors and mentally ill persons, but only about the "industry lobbyists."
The latter pay the representatives big bucks, and of course those needing assisted living cannot pay off the representatives. In my opinion, each time someone is neglected, abused, or needlessly dies in an assisted living facility, the Florida House of Representatives needs to be held responsible. After all, officials "promised to create the most significant reforms in a generation to better protect thousands of frail seniors and mentally ill residents."
Esther Kirk, Riverview
Answer the surveys
In the coming weeks, thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, including many among the 3.3 million in Florida, will receive two surveys that aim to gauge their satisfaction with Medicare plans: the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Health Plan survey, distributed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; and the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
When these critical surveys arrive in your mailbox, you may be tempted to toss them. However, seniors and their caregivers should respond right away because they offer an opportunity to have an impact on future Medicare offerings and costs.
These questionnaires aim to gather credible information about Medicare beneficiaries' health, experiences with their health plan, and the care they received from doctors and specialists. The data collected helps the government and Medicare plans identify areas for improvement and allows beneficiaries to compare plans and make more informed choices. I strongly encourage those who receive the survey to participate.
Dr. Scott Latimer, Humana Central Florida, Tampa
Obama never promised gas at $2.50 per gallon | March 10
High prices were the plan
PolitiFact nailed it on President Barack Obama and gas prices. Not only did he not promise $2.50 per gallon gas, candidate Obama told us we needed high energy prices so as to force the market toward alternatives like $10 per liter pond scum derivatives. His energy secretary doesn't own a car and has called for gas prices at European levels. They should declare partial success right now.
Dwayne Keith, Valrico