Shots fired amid gridlock | Nov. 7
How many guns are too many?
Here we have four people who get in a fight over a parking space. Two of them draw guns and shots are fired. The two people who draw guns both have concealed weapons permits.
On the same day, a 9-year-old child boards a school bus with a loaded gun. Fortunately, no one was hurt in either situation.
My question to gun enthusiasts in this: Are we there yet? Do enough people in Florida have guns to satisfy you, or will you now call for all school bus drivers to be armed?
How many guns are enough?
Janet Graber, St. Petersburg
'Stand your ground' stands after hearing Nov. 8
Warning shots are bad idea
Whether Florida's "stand your ground" law is a law our citizens agree with or not, I hope we send a message to our legislators that encouraging the firing of a warning shot is not a good idea. Even trained law enforcement officers do not do this.
What goes up must come down, possibly hitting an innocent bystander. No matter where the bullet that is used as a warning shot goes, unless it actually hits the person being warned, the flying projectile endangers children and adults whether in the line of fire or not.
This one provision the Florida Legislature seems to have agreed should be a new part of the law is just plain dumb, and more importantly, dangerous.
Jerry Rosen, Lutz
The right to self-protection
Given a life and death threat, the automatic human response is fight or flight. I would say most of those put in this elevated state of awareness would choose flight. Criminals, either through overwhelming force or by weapon, do not give their victims the option. For those unable to run, their only option is to fight or submit. Victims of crime are not always physically capable of defending themselves. "Stand your ground" levels the playing field.
An overwhelming majority of Floridians agree with this law and what it does to protect their rights to self-preservation. The House committee that voted down attempts to repeal this law made it clear by their vote that they are in favor of the people's right to self-protection.
Terence J. McNally Jr., South Pasadena
Insurers squeeze Medicare | Nov. 3
Cost-cutting will affect care
Jack Larsen, CEO of UnitedHealthcare, explains the insurer is dropping thousands of physicians from its AARP Medicare Complete networks because of "systematic underfunding."
UnitedHealthcare's decision may make sense on paper: Cut out premium providers and therefore cut costs. But Larsen isn't considering what this decision will cost patients and the health care system overall.
UnitedHealthcare's AARP plans may still cover cancer care next year, but it won't be at the top-rated facility in the state with the best outcomes. As a result, these patients will receive fragmented care, leading to more misdiagnoses, ineffective and costly treatments, as well as disappointing results.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we know our specialized, multidisciplinary care makes the difference in our patients' lives, and we want to continue to be available to them. We urge our patients, and our potential patients, to do their research now and make sure the health insurance plan they choose includes their current physician or one they may want to see in the future.
UnitedHealthcare executives may be able to justify dropping specialty care because it helps the bottom line, but this decision is shortsighted. Patients insured by AARP Medicare Complete need to be aware that failing to act now will leave them with substandard care in the future.
Dr. Alan List, president and CEO, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa
Affordable Care Act
Delay insurance sales tax
There are a host of positive elements in the Affordable Care Act. Many of them go into effect on Jan. 1 with the intent of driving down the cost of health insurance. One element, however, will do just the opposite and threatens our state's ability to obtain affordable care at all.
The ACA imposes a health insurance sales tax that will increase the cost of coverage. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the tax will cost the nation $100 billion over the next 10 years. Over the same period, it will cost Floridians an estimated $8 billion. New bipartisan legislation proposes a two-year delay on the tax. It's a great start. We simply need more time to find a better solution.
Over its first decade, the tax projects to cost the average single Floridian between $2,115 and $2,886 in premium increases and the average Florida Medicare Advantage member, many on fixed incomes, an extra $4,181 in increased premiums and reduced benefits. Over the same period, Medicaid health plan costs could increase $1,184, putting pressure on already strained state budgets, which could lead to decreased benefits and potentially create coverage disruption.
It'll cost us jobs (nationally, by 2022, the private sector impact could range from 146,000 to 262,000) and add a financial burden on Florida families and small businesses at a time we can least afford it. Readers should write their congressional delegation and support the Small Business and Family Relief Act. It's our best chance at keeping the Affordable Care Act affordable for all Floridians.
Michael P. Gallagher, president and CEO, AvMed, Gainesville
Opa-locka may add women to saggy pants ordinance | Nov. 7
This is a fine mess
Welcome to Florida, where a woman texting while driving in Opa-locka and driving erratically, thereby posing a potential threat to the lives and safety of those around her, can be pulled over by a cop and given a slap-on-the-wrist fine of $30.
However, if the cop notices that her jeans are a bit low in the back, providing a glimpse of her underwear — which poses no threat to anyone — then the fine jumps to $500.
I doubt if our wheelers and dealers in Tallahassee pay much attention to what goes on in Opa-locka, but that does not lessen the incongruity of the situation there.
R.G. Wheeler, St. Petersburg