House panel approves PIP overhaul | Jan. 11
Bill would increase stress on emergency rooms
As expected, the paranoia fueled by the insurance lobby concerning the need for PIP reform has caused the Florida Legislature to take leave of its collective senses, common or otherwise.
The latest House proposal would require anyone injured in an auto accident to seek treatment at a hospital emergency room within 72 hours or risk denial of future PIP benefits for subsequent treatment.
Beautiful. Let's increase the stress on emergency rooms already overburdened by patients (often without health insurance) who use ERs for their primary care needs. All under the guise of assuaging the cries of rampant PIP fraud by insurance giants such as State Farm and Allstate.
The truth is that insurance providers already investigate suspicious claims, and should their own doctors advise that additional care is unnecessary, further PIP financed treatment is denied.
Monte Stevens, the legislative affairs director for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, has stated that this most recent proposal "takes the biggest step in stamping out PIP fraud." Tell that to the parent of a feverish child whose wait for treatment in the local emergency room has just gotten much longer.
Robert E. Heyman, St. Petersburg
UF spurs innovation, jobs Jan. 8, commentary
Creating jobs for veterans
As a sixth-generation Floridian, I attended college in Florida and then left the state to pursue my master's degree. I returned in January 2011 after serving several years in the U.S. Marine Corps with a combat tour in Afghanistan. During my six-year absence, Floridians elected a new governor and new legislators, and the nation inherited new economic issues that left a plethora of my fellow veterans jobless.
As I look back on my first year out of the military, I recall countless business leaders, legislators, recent college graduates and educators discussing the need to come together to brainstorm and find ways to create jobs in our great state.
Those conversations led to at least one concrete example of progress: On Jan. 11, the University of Florida held a dedication ceremony for the Florida Innovation Hub, an incubator for start-up companies whose technologies emanated from laboratories at UF and throughout the state. Leaders hope to bring research discoveries to the marketplace and create additional jobs for Floridians.
Other universities are pursuing projects similar to the Florida Innovation Hub. This type of cohesive effort has made me proud to come home to my native state of Florida and to know that there are opportunities for war veterans who aspire to return to the state after having served their country.
Jamal Sowell, Orlando
$200 million verdict came without a defense Jan. 14
Legal system run amok
This article is a major answer to the question, "Who is responsible for the very high cost of health care in America?" The plain answer is the legal system in America today: the jury, the lawyer and the judge.
I feel sorry for the woman, but $200 million for her estate is, honestly, sickening. And, as much as I dislike defense lawyers, what in our legal system let a decision of this magnitude take place without a defense?
Bob Wolfe, Sun City Center
Restore staffing levels
As a nursing home caregiver, I was deeply saddened when I learned of this heartbreaking death, which could have been prevented. This was a tragic end to the life of an elderly woman whose care was in the hands of others. These are the types of accidents that can take place when patient loads are too high and caregivers are pulled in too many directions at once.
Last year, staffing levels were cut and, as a result, the health and safety of nursing home residents are at risk. We must restore staffing levels. Our elders deserve to be protected from harm and to live their lives out with dignity.
Jean Berg, CNA, Hudson
Bricks and mortar vs. wheels and steel Jan. 14
Something to chew on
The concept of food trucks is very cool. However, there are serious issues regarding fairness. If you have ever opened a restaurant, you very quickly become aware of the plethora of rules and regulations that can cost literally tens of thousands of dollars to comply with. ADA-rated bathrooms, for instance. Food trucks don't have them, so where do their customers go to wash up? There is also the issue of property taxes and rent sales tax.
Some successful restaurants contribute heavily to local charities and causes. Do they make money? Some certainly do, and hats off to them for that. Most don't, and the entrepreneurs who fail lose a significant sum.
The devil is in the details, and I appreciate the City Council thinking this through more thoroughly.
Scott Wagman, St. Petersburg
Fight to the death and beyond | Jan. 13
A display of goodness
Finally, a story I could read that would not bring terror and fright to my doorstep. I have been so weary of the constant assault to my psyche from the bad news that is presented from national, local and regional news that I hardly want to read the paper in the morning. I do not bury my head in the sand, but I do need balance.
Jeanene Arrington is a woman with a heart, a conscience and an innate spirit to do what is right. She is an obvious lover of the beauty of natural creation. She sought a solution to help a helpless animal.
Thank you for showing us that there is real goodness in people. We need more stories that will uplift us.
Norene Dagly, St. Petersburg
Obama seeks power to combine agencies Jan. 14
The article on President Barack Obama's plan to combine six agencies calls the expected $3 billion savings over 10 years "aggressive." Given that the government will spend well over $30 trillion in that time, maybe "embarrassing" is more like it.
And seeing as how the federal workforce has grown by about 150,000 in the last three years, how is a reduction of "1,000 to 2,000 jobs" even significant? More than that many retire every year.
Ernest Lane, Trinity