PIP reforms rev up | May 11, column
Expect to pay more, not less
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater makes it clear in his column that we "may" get a 10 percent reduction in auto insurance rates, but we won't know until late 2013.
In the meantime, here is what we do know: Auto insurance companies will be able to limit claims payments for medical expenses and lost wages to $2,500 instead of $10,000 on all cases that do not require emergency medical care. This probably constitutes 50 to 90 percent of all accident claims, if not more. So they will save about $7,500 on most claims. They save 75 percent on nearly every claim, and if we are really lucky, we "might" get 10 percent back on our premiums.
Just because auto insurers don't have to pay your medical bills over $2,500 doesn't mean you won't have them. So our Legislature and governor have transferred the burden of paying those bills to health insurance and, particularly with Florida's large senior citizen population, Medicare. In other words, you and I, the taxpayers, as well as those lucky enough to have health insurance, will pay a lot more. The 10 percent we "may" save on our auto insurance will not even come close to what we can expect to pay for increased health coverage and costs to Medicare. This burden, formerly addressed through the private auto insurance market, is now being shifted, to a large part, to the public. (Kind of reminds you of the property insurance mess, doesn't it?)
And since all of this PIP reform was orchestrated by Gov. Rick Scott, who do you think is going to get blamed for the increased cost of health coverage and Medicare in Florida come election time? Yep, you guessed it. Barack Obama.
David Folkenflik, Kenneth City
Republican priorities laid bare | May 10, editorial
Ignorant and mean
Rep. Paul Ryan's House Budget Committee's one-sided attempt to fix the budget/deficit crisis by reducing social program spending is justified by his saying: "Here's the problem: These efforts aren't working. One in six Americans today are in poverty," and he suggests that the poverty was the result of a growing culture of dependency. He went on to say, "Let's get back to the idea of America as an opportunity society."
I am a volunteer for Meals on Wheels in Pinellas County. His statements illustrate to me the head-in-the-sand ignorance of this Republican House leader, and they are appalling for the depth of their hard-heartedness. He, together with the other 217 Republicans who voted to approve a budget that presents starvation potential for Meals on Wheels clients in order to exempt the military/industrial complex from doing its part to fix our well-known problems, shows the lengths they will go to protect their financial handlers. The fact that self-styled good religionists, who are supposed to follow the calling of Jesus to help the poor, go along with such draconian proposals illustrates their abject hypocrisy.
If only our so-called representatives could be forced to stand in the living room of an 80-plus-year-old widow in a wheelchair and tell her that it is in the best interests of the country (and a Christian thing to do) that she starve in order to not disrupt the profit margin of defense contractors, maybe there would be a change of heart.
Larry Pflueger, Largo
Defense is the priority | May 11, letter
Blame Bush for fix we're in
The writer's evaluations are absurd. China will never "call in the chips" as long as we are its largest import customer. What China fears is that we might again become a producing nation, cutting deeply into its import volume. If and when that comes to be, this surely will turn the economy around in a short time.
"Social safety nets" were never a problem before George W. Bush took office. Reducing taxes and failing to regulate the financial markets slowly turned our economy into what it is today, causing many of the middle class to burden and depend on these safety nets. Once we start producing and quit outsourcing, this will quickly turn around.
Most of our defense budget is allocated to Afghanistan and Iraq. Once these wars are phased out, the defense spending will be greatly reduced.
And last, I assume the ship she wants the Republicans to turn around is the one same one Bush and the Republicans guided in the wrong direction.
D.J. Holding, Dover
The president's evolution | May 11, editorial
Not a civil rights issue
The Tampa Bay Times' assertion that President Barack Obama has made civil rights history by supporting homosexual marriage is misleading at best and false at worst.
This was not Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation or Dr. Martin Luther King's sermon on the Mall. This was a bumbling, ill-planned interview in an attempt to catch up with the now-contrite Vice President Joe Biden, who let the proverbial cat out of the bag.
This is not a civil rights issue. This is a personal and biological issue. The sexual difference in marriage enables a couple to literally become one flesh, to procreate, to complement each other's strengths and support each other's weaknesses. To use a phrase from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, marriage is like the strength of the water molecule, with hydrogen and oxygen creating an unbreakable bond. Anything else is just two people cohabitating or, in the latter example, just a lot of gas.
Christopher D. Martinez, St. Petersburg
Teen finds vindication with history fair victory | May 11
Squeaky wheel gets grease
Jack Irvine's effort at the county level was judged fourth best of four, by three judges. There is no allegation that the other two judges were biased, but only that the mother of a Dunedin Highland Middle School student favored another such student over a Safety Harbor Middle School student.
Also unreported was the fact that Jack Irvine's mother publicly and rudely confronted judge Heidi Kay at the Pinellas County event, calling foul when her son did not "win." Such behavior undermines the spirit of the event, emphasizing the "competition" aspect over the scholarship component.
Despite your headline writer's characterization of this incident as "finding vindication," the lesson that most would take away from this is that if you complain loudly enough, you can bully others into letting the last-place contestant "win."
Charles D. Hinton, Safety Harbor
Is this all Dems have?
If the "Romney, the bully" story wasn't so pathetic, it would be funny. If this is all the Democrats can come up with to discredit Mitt Romney, then they are in more trouble than I thought. Keep at it, guys, and maybe you'll come up with a minor traffic violation that happened 30 to 35 years ago.
Michael P. Catalano, Palm Harbor