Medicare works. It does nothing to the actual medical care/treatment, as opposed to the HMOs that try to control treatment and access. I agree with Paul Krugman, (Kennedy's big day, July 14) who says we are ready for universal health care. We need to debunk the neocon propaganda that says it will socialize medicine. The free market can still provide the medical treatment.
I once worked for a company that was self-insured. It lowered premiums, deductibles and co-payments and provided freedom of choice in doctors and hospitals. I believe the American people are ready to choose to be a "self-insured group."
Anyone can collect premiums and pay claims. And Medicare does it very well.
Grace Payton, Sun City Center
For disabled, wait for benefits hurts | July 15, story
Will you trust a bumbling bureaucracy?
It seems that horror stories abound regarding the low quality of medical care provided our veterans and the poor performance of our children and family services organizations. Now we read that it can take more than two years to begin to receive disability benefits from Social Security.
I don't know about the majority of the readers, but I can't bring myself to turn over responsibility for my health care to some incompetent government-run bureaucracy.
Stephen Small, Indian Rocks Beach For disabled, wait for benefits hurts | July 15, story
Social Security system has become overgrown
Your front-page article about the lengthy wait for disability payments from Social Security had one consequence, unintended I'm sure. It served to illustrate one of the major reasons the Social Security system is headed toward serious financial difficulty.
When the Social Security system came into being in 1936 it was intended to provide supplementary retirement income to workers over 65 who retired. But as with most of the so-called entitlement programs that came into being under Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, Social Security eventually took on a life of its own.
At some point a provision was added to provide income to widows with dependent children. A provision was added to provide income to those with disabilities, real or imagined.
With those added burdens, it is no wonder that Social Security is in trouble.
Incidentally, I wonder if it occurred to the writer of the article that it is just possible that when a claim is denied, it may not be valid?
F. Darrell Thomas, Trinity
All are needed to fight fraud | July 12, letter
The letter writer has many sound ideas, but much of the Medicare fraud problem continues because of inefficiency in the Medicare customer service department. I can attest to this by experience.
My mother who passed away a few years ago, bless her heart, was a resident at an assisted living facility. She needed the services of a podiatrist every so often for trimming of nails, etc. I checked all of her Medicare claims religiously. One claim came through from a podiatrist I did not recognize. The claim was for the treatment of a sprained ankle for an amount of about $200 as I remember.
I knew my mother had not experienced an ankle sprain, so I contacted the facility and they told me that particular podiatrist had not treated my mother and had been banned from the facility for a history of false claims.
I submitted a letter to the Medicare Fraud Division reporting the incident. I received a letter saying an investigation had been initiated and I would receive a report. I received two more letters indicating I would receive a report on the fraud. I finally received a fourth letter saying that the podiatrist's records showed that she had treated my mother for a sprained ankle and the case was closed.
It is obvious they did nothing, not even contacting the assisted living facility. I am sure there are hundreds or thousands of cases similar to this where Medicare is paying for false claims. Just increasing the efficiency of the investigative arm of Medicare would probably eliminate a great percentage of the fraud. Certainly all individuals' efforts are needed to stop this practice, but if Medicare does not do their part, the efforts are worthless!
D.J. Holding, Dover
How can they do it? | July 15, letter
I read the same article (California slashes Allstate rates 25%, July 11), and the letter writer is not dreaming. The difference is that California has real legislators, who when elected to serve the people of that state took their oath seriously — unlike the self-serving boneheads we are stuck with here in Florida.
By publishing the article about California, the St. Petersburg Times has shown whom those in Tallahassee really work for: the insurance industry. Maybe the people of Florida will wake up and stop voting along party lines just to keep the status quo.
But until then, maybe the Times could keep publishing articles like the one about California. And we in Florida can read them and dream of how things could be.
Dave Trump, Holiday
He stood up for Florida | July 11
Yearning for a hero
Thank you, Martin Dyckman, for reminding me of life in the '70s and some of the political heroes then. I lived here in the '60s and '70s and thought that life was evolving as it should when we had one man, one vote.
How far we have fallen now. Most men and women are cynical and dishonest in government offices today. Is this the inevitable result of one man, one vote? That this was cheek to jowl with Harold Meyerson's expose of American businessmen in China and Vietnam (Why were we in Vietnam?) was another arrow to the heart. Where are the heroes, the honest and fair business people today?
I hate this exhibit of American know-how in politics and business in foreign lands and at home. I am so hungry for a hero — an honorable person who will act on principles. Are there any?
Irma Donahoe, St. Petersburg
How safe is your bank? | July 16
I was amazed at the font size used in Wednesday's headline story. I don't think you used a font that large for your coverage of 9/11 or the Skyway disaster.
I understand your need to report the news, but I feel your coverage is sensationalizing the story. Based on conversations with friends and family, if your objective is scaring your readers, you have succeeded.
I'd encourage you to report the news and allow your readers to determine in their mind the size of the headline.
John Lee, St. Petersburg
How safe is your bank? | July 16
Your headline was nothing short of alarmist and irresponsible. Much of the safety of our banking system depends upon consumer confidence. When that component is eroded, the serious trouble begins.
Your sensationalist drama-queen approach to the reporting of an important financial story is reprehensible. How about just reporting the news instead of fanning the flames?
Thomas McKnight, Safety Harbor
New Yorker cover
Satire? What's that?
The recent cover of the New Yorker, showing Barack Obama wearing a turban and his wife decked out as a '60s radical, was intended as a satire of the outrageous accusations circulating on the Internet.
Unfortunately, the editors forgot to factor in the reality of states like Florida, where the majority of the natives were never exposed to the concept of satire before they dropped out of school.
It is also time for the Obama campaign to understand that their current political ads also miss their mark. Instead of highlighting his educational background, public service and articulate delivery of a promise of change, they need to adopt a comic book format where Obama is portrayed as a superhero battling the forces of evil.
It is simply time to realize that a large number of Americans are unable to deal with more sophisticated messages.
John H. Mason, Clearwater