Editor's note: Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly helps.
Help us choose the letter of the month for November 2013 by reading through the three nominated letters and voting on the ballot at the bottom of the web page.
New dispute arises: policy cancellations | Oct. 30
Medicare for all is the solution
All the recent hoopla about the Affordable Care Act has generated a lot of heat but not much light. In all the angry finger-pointing, both parties have missed the main point. Obamacare is flawed and cumbersome for the same reason that our existing "system" doesn't work: It is a health insurance system, not a health care system. The obvious answer is a single-payer health care system, Medicare for all.
The administration is running into problems with technology and with cancellation of existing policies precisely because Obamacare is an insurance-based program. So we have to navigate insurance exchange websites, that must then connect up with insurance company databases, that must then correlate with existing insurance coverage, and so on. It's bound to be inefficient and confusing, and also costly.
Insurance companies take at least 20 cents out of every dollar Americans spend on health care; Medicare takes only 2 or 3 cents on the dollar. Health insurance companies are massively profitable, yet most Americans either can't afford health insurance or are very dissatisfied with the coverage they have, which is not only expensive but often not there for us when we need it most.
Those Americans fortunate enough to be on Medicare are very happy with it. Most of us, including President Barack Obama, knew that a single-payer Medicare for all system was by far the best way to reform American health care. But it didn't happen because it wasn't "politically doable." Most of our congressmen and state legislators are more responsive to the corporate interests who pay for their election campaigns than the people they claim to represent. This is true of both Republicans and Democrats. So single payer was never on the table because the health insurance lobby is simply too powerful.
If Obamacare ever gets off the ground, it will be helpful to many low-income Americans who will be able to afford health insurance. But it is a huge windfall for the health insurance industry, just as the Bush administration's prescription drug benefit was a huge windfall for the pharmaceutical industry.
Andrew Rock, Tampa (Nov. 3)
No fair deal in lowland | Nov. 4
Flood claim maps can mislead
This article about flooding in the Shore Acres neighborhood of St. Petersburg raises the issue of how misleading the statistics are in the flood insurance program.
Our house is shown on the map as one of those with repeated losses. In fact, the paperwork provided by FEMA shows two losses about 30 years ago totaling less than $5,000 combined. One was for the no-name storm of June 18, 1982, in the amount of $1,086.61, and the other was for Aug. 31, 1985, in the amount of $3,739.40.
We bought the house five years later, in 1990. Since then, a low-level Florida room on the back of the house was replaced by an elevated living room, and the front carport was replaced with a two-car garage and new entrance. We have had no flooding or losses since owning the house. We get about 6 inches of water at the street end of the driveway during some downpours. Nonetheless, our house appears with a bad boy marker on the flood history map.
Richard E. Oliver, St. Petersburg (Nov. 8)
For honor roll, D's don't make the grade | Nov. 16, editorial
Disservice to students
I believe it is a terrible idea to disqualify a high school student who makes a C or below from the honor roll. It is demoralizing to hard-working students.
This would mean that a student could get five A's and one C for the quarter and not be recognized as an honor roll student. This student would have a grade-point average of 3.66.
Another student could get four B's and two A's and make the honor roll with a GPA of 3.33.
In many cases, bright, hard-working students have deficit areas. Suppose a student is weak in math and gets a 79 for the quarter. This is a C. He or she could earn five A's in the other classes but still be excluded from honor roll status.
I hope the school board reconsiders this proposed policy. In this day and age, to not reward a hard-working student who earns a 3.4, 3.5 or 3.6 grade-point average in a quarter to me is professional negligence.
Andy Kern, New Port Richey (Nov. 19)