Health care reform
We need it, but can we afford it?
I find myself agreeing more with those at Fox News than MSNBC about health care reform. I do believe that everyone should have affordable health care available to them. But at what cost?
Why do those in the ruling party have to make exclusive deals to get this done? The folks in Louisiana and Nebraska get special consideration over residents of other states to achieve this reform. Why? If it doesn't stand on its own merits, then maybe it deserves more scrutiny.
Unfortunately, many who are close to me really don't care that much about it. There's a lot of apathy. This may be the reason the Democrats can do what they are doing.
Again, I believe that we should all have access to the best health care available. But should health insurance be required? And what does that mean? If I am having difficulty paying my mortgage, the government is going to fine me if I can't afford health insurance premiums? The maximum fine would be about $180 a month. Insurance for my family currently costs about $1,350. There's a big difference between the two. So if I can't afford coverage for my family, I get fined to help cover someone else. It doesn't seem right. But maybe it's the only way for everyone to get health care.
Mark Hallisey, New Port Richey
A great start
I am so relieved the Senate has passed its health care bill. The Republicans voted against it. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposes it, and the insurance companies are crying about it.
I know the Senate Democrats must have gotten it right when they passed the "Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act" bill on Christmas Eve day. It may not be perfect, but it's a great start.
Ray Davis, Largo
Health vs. health care
It is sad that America does not get it. Health care would be needed much less if the focus by the government and the people was on health, right up front. Health care is after the fact. Health care is money in the pockets of "insurance" companies, pill makers, doctors and hospitals.
Keying in on "health programs" would lessen the amount of money that these groups make and at the same time would result in healthier, happier American citizens. Other nations consider health programs to precede health care programs.
John Miller, Tampa
Nelson sells out
I was disappointed but not at all surprised that Sen. Bill Nelson supported and voted for the so-called health care bill. In all my years of watching politics I have never seen such corrupt maneuvering, vote buying and outright coercion, threats and bribery to get a bill passed that the American people have said over and over again that they don't want.
America has the greatest health care system in the world. It needs some updating and most definitely needs tort reform, but we are mostly satisfied with it. This vote for health care reform has nothing to do with health care and everything to do with power, money and control over the population.
Nelson sold out his constituents. I am ashamed to call him my senator.
Sharon DiPiazza, Seffner
Equal treatment for women
The Senate passed health care reform at the expense of women. Senators who supported reform were forced to accept an unworkable abortion provision.
The provision pushed by Nebraska's Sen. Ben Nelson imposes significant new obstacles to women seeking health care coverage, requiring tens of millions of Americans to write two checks to pay for private health insurance instead of just one.
It also creates complicated administrative burdens for insurance companies. Opponents of abortion want to make it so difficult to cover even medically necessary abortions that insurance companies will elect not to.
We need a health care bill that treats women and women's health the same way it treats everyone else and other kinds of health care.
Michelle Strouse, Sarasota
Mutations have killer TB on rebound Dec. 27, story
At a disadvantage
There are really two reasons for this lamentable state of affairs:
1. We live in Hypochondriac Nation. When Americans feel a mite poorly their first reaction is to "take something" when a little rest and good diet and health habits would cure 99 percent of our ailments. When people take antibacterial pills to fight a virus they are just making the germs tougher.
2. Modern man has been around for about 400,000 years. The microbes that infect us — bacteria, viruses, protozoa, prions, etc. — have been around for about 2 billion years. To put it mildly, the odds are not in our favor.
Pete Wilford, Holiday
Government has a role
Major positions of the philosophy of both Republican and Libertarian organizations are "less government" and/or "let the marketplace decide." However, I believe a significant number of recent events provide proof of the failure of this position.
Recent legislation passed by both houses of Congress is necessary to force the health insurance industry to eliminate standards and practices many would consider unethical: dropping long-term clients just when they most need insurance coverage; dropping clients for not disclosing pre-existing conditions (even if they were unaware of them).
The banking and investment community, after taking huge government "bailouts," quickly returned those funds just so they may again begin paying extraordinary executive bonuses, just because no existing government regulations prohibit such actions.
Recent disclosures from major investment firms: While they are selling highly questionable CDO (collateralized debt obligation) investment vehicles from their front office, these same firms are hedging these investments from their back office, undisclosed to their clients and the public in order to make extraordinary profits. They then pay these same managers bonuses for their clever tricks.
From recent events in both houses of Congress it is clear a large segment of our present government is being held hostage to the enormous power of the "less government" lie. Legislation is no longer enacted to benefit the general public, but is constantly held hostage by the lobbyists of special interests. Changes must be enacted soon to return our government back to the people.
Jay Hall, Tampa
Slack demand strangles oil refiners' business | Dec. 25
The article correctly points out that the supply of gasoline in this country exceeds the demand and, due to alternative fuels and more fuel-efficient cars, that situation is not expected to change when the current recession ends.
"We have too much capacity," the article quotes an executive of the Tesoro Corp., one of the many oil refining companies shutting down some of its refineries, as saying. "We need refineries to be shut down." That executive, chief economist Lynn Westfall, estimates that America's production capacity needs to be cut by 5 to 8 percent before supply and demand will reach equilibrium.
Sure, crude oil is now selling for about $78 a barrel and gas is around $2.50 a gallon, but it's petroleum speculators — not the law of supply and demand — that are keeping prices artificially high.
At a time when excess crude oil is being stored in oil tankers anchored off America's shores, it is hard to believe that some people want to add to the worldwide oil glut by placing drilling rigs within sight of Florida's beaches.
James Nelson, Largo
Stolen copper: As good as gold? | Dec. 25
Acts of greed
A man destroys $300,000 worth of property and only heaven knows the additional damage done to businesses, employees, families, etc.— for about $5,000 in funds.
Only one act of greed exceeds this feat. For a few dollars profit, what kind of people would buy this copper, knowing darn well it is stolen, and look the other way? You can't keep bringing in copper day after day and not know it was stolen.
Donald F. Kelly, St. Petersburg