Florida health care needs reform
Are we in Florida doing everything we can to address emergency care issues? Not according to the state-by-state report card on America's emergency care environment just released by the American College of Emergency Physicians, which gave Florida a C-minus and ranked the state 27th overall.
Florida earned a D-plus in public health and injury prevention, in part because of a lack of safe driving laws that result in the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in the country, and a rate of bicyclist fatalities that is more than twice the national average.
The state earned a C for medical liability environment, which is due to the lack of insurers offering liability coverage and the lack of pretrial screening panels.
Florida needs to recruit, train and retain all types of health professionals — especially those who work in our ERs. We need to become known as a physician-friendly state. One way to do that would be to improve our medical liability environment. Florida could do that by encouraging additional insurers to write liability policies and implement pretrial screening panels. Another way would be to increase funding for graduate medical education and to consider loan forgiveness programs.
Michael Lozano Jr., M.D., president, Florida College of Emergency Physicians, Tampa
TV ads defend trauma units | Jan. 19
Justify facilities by need
Health care has become an emotional, fear-driven agenda for hospital conglomerates with their profit-oriented business plans. Can we be realistic, honest and sensible in our approach to the trauma issue?
Having been a board member on the Health Council of West Central Florida and the Hillsborough County Hospital Authority for many years, I have seen this develop for decades.
At one time there was a logical program for determining the justification for establishing medical facilities through the certificate of need process. This gauged the actual need. Slowly, it was politically marginalized. The economic and medical justification for facilities is now a political game. The mega hospital conglomerates are using this to serve their dollar-driven agendas.
Trauma centers are a highly specialized segment of health care. Huge investments of millions in equipment, staffing of skilled medical professional experts, experience in thousands of procedures unique to trauma — these elements simply cannot be duplicated in more than a few vital venues.
While we have a shortage of primary care physicians and medical specialists, you cannot simply open a facility and call it a "trauma center" with justifiable credibility.
Access to quality health care is vital. We must utilize sound reason and logic in our approach to this issue in lieu of the emotional fear and propaganda now being experienced.
Austin R. Curry, Tampa
Taxing us to death | Jan. 17, letter
Learn the facts about plan
In a letter opposing the Greenlight Pinellas plan and a 1 percent sales tax for improved transit, a reader wrote: "It would appear that the mind-set of those who support this effort … is … those who oppose it are simply uneducated, misinformed or confused." He then perfectly validates the mind-set he attempts to disprove: He suggests that Penny for Pinellas funds be used for transit. That is not possible.
If he had researched the Penny for Pinellas, he would know that those funds are already allotted and can only be used for capital improvements and not ongoing operations, which is essential for transit. He then points out that the ballot language doesn't specify eliminating the current PSTA property tax. Had he researched that subject, he would have easily learned that the PSTA will officially zero out the property tax via interlocal agreement with the county. PSTA's taxing authority is levied by the Legislature and can only be taken away by the Legislature. In fact, last year, at PSTA's request, the Legislature passed a bill that would, indeed, eliminate that taxing authority if a 1 percent transit sales tax were approved by the voters. That bill was vetoed by the governor.
I urge people to visit GreenlightPinellas.com to learn the truth about the plan and not to rely on assumptions and catch phrases to make their decision as to whether to support the funding change and Greenlight Pinellas transit improvement plan.
Bob Lasher, spokesman, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg
Lawmakers should okay charity fixes Jan. 19, editorial
Set a higher standard
Protecting charity donors is certainly a government role and I am relieved that finally this is being done. There are excellent proposed legislative safety recommendations being made.
However, I thought there was a typo when I saw that if less than 25 percent of the proceeds are actually being spent on charity, the group will have to detail how it is spending its money and with whom. At a minimum 60 percent of my donation should go for its intended purpose and solicitation. I would want to know how the 75 percent is not being spent on the charity.
Twenty five cents of each dollar I donate going to my intended cause is not a wise investment. I want more for my money. Unfortunately, 25 percent was not a typo as I saw it mentioned in several places. This is a glaring misstep in keeping the scammers at bay.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam should take another look at this.
Marilyn Weaver, Tarpon Springs
A monumental disagreement Jan. 20
A lack of dignity
Why are some people still fighting the Civil War and this one over monuments? As horrific as the Civil War was, when it ended, the common soldiers from both sides just wanted to go home and get on with their lives. Years later when these soldiers were old men, they would gather at reunions as comrades and friends while reliving the courage and bravery exhibited by both sides in battle. These former enemies embraced each other as citizens of one country.
Too bad that 150 years after the Civil War ended, the present-day ancestors of these soldiers cannot act with as much dignity and grace as their forefathers who actually fought in that war.
John Murphy, Largo