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Put your foot down on expensive medical bills

Editor: Being overcharged for medical care is going on all the time; however, when it happened to us, the outrage we felt compelled me to write, not only to you but also to the American Medical Association (AMA) in Washington. On Oct. 22, 1990, my fiance hit his foot on a chair. We knew it was injured quite badly, but we waited until the next day to go to the emergency room of a local hospital.

The X-rays showed a break or clean fracture of the little toe on the left foot.

The doctor in the emergency room taped the two toes together and told us that this was the standard care for broken toes. We knew this to be true, but the doctor told us we should take him to a bone and joint center just to be sure, in case they wanted to put a splint or shoe on it.

Feeling this visit was unnecessary, we hesitated. But later in the evening, we decided we would call and make the appointment. On the initial call I was told they don't bill insurance, so we had to pay cash. No problem, right? I also had to drive 30 miles to collect the original X-rays after they were read at the hospital and bring them with me. I did this!

Arriving at the doctor, we filled out a brief medical history form and waited to be seen.

The doctor we saw was pleasant, and he removed the tape put on in the emergency room. He then felt around and told us, well, about all that you can do is leave it taped. This took a total of eight minutes. He reapplied the tape and told us to return in three weeks for a checkup.

We went to the counter to pay our bill thinking, "How much can tape cost?" The girl asked my fiance if he had a cast put on and he said, "no, just tape." She called back to find out who saw him and then said the bill was $75.

We paid it, but with reluctance. I went home and called them to ask why the charge was so high when all the doctor did was replace the original tape.

Her answer: "It's standard office procedure for an office visit," and I was lucky because most doctors charge more. Not true! I, of course, canceled the follow-up visit feeling really ripped-off.

My complaint to her gained me no satisfaction, so I sat down and wrote a letter to the AMA telling them what I'm telling you. I copied the letter and took it down to the doctor's office, and once again asked if they would explain why an office visit for taping a toe is standard. She stated, "Well, we have a lot of paperwork for patients."

I gave them a copy of my letter and told them of my intentions. Now I'm telling you:

Beware of referral follow-up consultations because I'm not sure what they did was ethical, and I'm certain what they did was unfair. I feel we were taken advantage of and now know why insurance premiums are skyrocketing all the time.

Marie E. Morris

New Port Richey

Sheriff's tactics on cuts unacceptable

Editor: I was outraged the morning I read of Sheriff Jim Gillum's response to the cuts in his proposed budget. One particular statement, which I think was designed to play on the fears of our citizens, especially our seniors, implied we could expect longer deputy response time. Furthermore, he indicated his solution to the problem would be to arm his deputies with letters blaming the reduction of his budget for the delay. You may be sure this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Instead of holding the taxpayers hostage to fears for their safety and advertising to our criminals that they can expect more time to complete their dirty work, the sheriff could have turned his attention to reducing his overhead.

An obviously available remedy for bringing his budget into line would be to reduce the salaries or even the positions of those who hold high-paying administrative jobs due to political patronage and/or cronyism. They would not be difficult to find, as the 10 who threatened political retaliation against two Republican commissioners are without doubt political, not professional.

Voters hopefully will regard the November referendum as more than an opportunity to reject the veiled threat of delayed deputy response time. An overwhelming negative vote on this proposal will serve notice that we find Gillum's personal and professional behavior to be unacceptable.

K.

A. Petrillo

New Port Richey

Support Children's Services Council

Editor: On behalf of the Statewide Health Council, I am writing to support the creation of a Children's Services Council in Pasco and Hernando counties. The Statewide Health Council advises state government on health planning issues.

Last February, the council sponsored an American Assembly on child health issues, entitled "Healthy Children: Tomorrow Begins Today." This was a consensus building project where representatives of the public and private sector debated issues and developed many recommendations. A significant recommendation was to establish children's services councils to improve local services to children.

Planning and appropriately financing children's services is a wise investment because they can reduce health and social problems in later life. A council could determine the needs and finance services at the local level without the burdens of a large bureaucracy.

Randy M. Kammer

President, Statewide Health Council

Tallahassee

Best voters are those in the know

Editor: I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of the candidates who appeared at Holiday Lake Estates Civic Association on Oct. 23 at its Candidate Night and the representatives of candidates who had other commitments.

It's too bad we had a rather low participation by residents of our subdivision. I think all of their presentations and answers should enlighten their views on many fields. I know it gives others and me a clear view for Nov. 6. But if the election doesn't go in the right direction or if certain bills are passed or rejected against the views of people who don't attend publicmeetings, I don't think they have any right to criticize.

But that is what always happens, as I have said many times. And I have shown this to happen. Numbers always count. I have seen it happen on three different occasions in Pasco County in the last 10 years. People should be involved with their elected officials to let them know where they stand. And maybe we would not have budget problems. Always remember, government has not one red cent unless it receives tax revenues.

So the more service that is voted on is somebody's tax bill. So when you go to the polls have a clear vision of what is happening and could happen.

Joseph Pennington

Holiday

Halloween has no place in the schools

Editor: Re: Halloween. I am sick and tired of people like your recent letter writers Ron Ciro and Tammy Beal. They are foolish. This is not a day of innocent fun. If you want to celebrate it at your own home, fine. It has no place in the school system.

I am sick and tired of having my rights walked all over. I applaud Mrs. Davis' efforts, and the School Board has not heard the last of this. We have just begun to fight. My son goes to Richey Fundamental, and I was saddened to see them change their Spring Fling into a Halloween Festival. Though now they call it a Fall Festival, which is on Oct. 31, and the children are encouraged to wear costumes.

I have to keep my son home that day because it is being run during school hours. This is an insult to all people who do not celebrate this holiday. For Mrs. Beal's information, she is desensitizing her child to things that are evil. This is a call for all parents who do not believe in this to join together and protect our rights. It has no place in the school system.

Regina Mirabella

Hudson

Poem says it all about "Helloe'en'

Editor: The front page article regarding the objections to Halloween reminded me of the following, which my father-in-law wrote in the late '60s.

HELLOE'EN PLUS DEVILENE

Twas on the night

of Helloe'en;

In weirsome garb

of devilene:

The children came,

Their friends to greet;

With impish words

Of trick or treat.

Such gifts of alms,

Our fears to quell;

Are sponsored from

The depths of hell:

For tis a curse

of wantonness;

Polluted with Coerciveness.

Upon Christians

Will fall much blame,

For worldly pranks

Of sordid shame:

Remember that

Our Blessed Lord,

Would never trick

A child of God.

So children when

You come this way,

Let's bow our heads

With Christ and pray:

That we refrain

From Helloe'en;

And impish pranks

Of devilene.

By Walter J. Fillyaw

Lexington, S.C.

All rights reserved.

He did not live to see our sick world today, where it is necessary to have the "treats" X-rayed, to be sure they're safe.

God must have a very unpleasant "surprise" awaiting the monsters who deliberately try to hurt "His Little Children."

Mary G. Fillyaw

New Port Richey

Repeal the pay raises for Congress

Editor: I support HR 5416, a bill to repeal the last Congressional pay raise. Congress is responsible for the serious ongoing problems of the budget deficit, the billion dollar savings and loan bailout, Pentagon boondoggles and the scandal at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to name a few.

It is shameful that Congress asks taxpayers to accept cutbacks in important social programs while they vote themselves a $35,000-a-year pay raise. Members of Congress make more than 99 percent of the rest of all Americans and have a generous pension and benefits package. Taxpayers cannot afford the increase, and Congress hasn't earned one!

We need leadership by example. Congress should repeal its pay raise.

Interested citizens who send a stamped self-addressed business-size envelope to the Congressional Accountability Project, P.O. Box 19446, Washington, D.C. 20036, will receive a free Action Kit to "Repeal the Congressional Pay Grab."

Katherine Aguior

New Port Richey

Golf courses would help pay for parks

Editor: Our commissioners are spending millions on libraries and parks. When they are completed, we have to pay for the upkeep. It seems to me our commissioners aren't thinking about the taxpayers!

Not one golf course is scheduled in any of the parks. I have not heard of any golf course losing money.

Why don't the commissioners put golf courses in and make money for the upkeep and maintenance of the parks, instead of having the taxpayers paying for it?

Albert Nielson

New Port Richey

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