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Frustration continues at lack of action on health care

Now that we have won a glorious victory over Iraq and ensured establishment of democracy in Kuwait, it is most comforting to witness the decisive action the Bush administration is taking to solve the nation's health-care problems. The Bush proposal to attack the problem by limiting doctor's malpractice liability for pain and suffering is a master-stroke .


. think of the money insurance companies would save!

The secretary of Health and Human Services advises Americans to prevent illness by avoiding tobacco, liquor, fatty foods, drugs and (I assume) unsafe sex. The secretary's plan will take only three or four generations to yield positive results, making it infinitely superior to the president's proposition.

Congress isn't agonizing over health care as it agonized whether to make war on Iraq. But be of good cheer, it is beginning to tap-dance around the problem! With notable exceptions, members of Congress seem to fear the wrath ($) of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, et al, as much as they have feared the displeasure of the NRA and Charles Keating.

Since the administration and the Congress were able to commit tens of millions of dollars per day to save Kuwait, is it unreasonable to suggest that monies and methods for an industrial world type health care system be established by a stated, uncompromising deadline, say Jan. 15?

Garth E. Blais, Largo

The toxic environment in our health care system will continue its melt-down if we choose to Band-aid the cancer rather than fundamentally restructuring the whole system.

The American Medical Association has recently published its journal's 16 proposals, weeded from 90 such proposals, recognizing our serious health care crisis. On May 18, This Week With David Brinkley, the president of the AMA stated that we need an evolutionary and incremental approach and an increase in Medicaid in solving our health care crisis.

Recently the Senate Democrats proposed annual spending targets on "the soaring costs of national health care . . . Compliance with spending targets would be voluntary . . . build on the current mix of public and private health programs."

We need a universal health care system that puts mandatory controls on the cost of health care: stops the one-third waste in our present system, such as excessive paper-pushing, excessive and underutilized high-tech machinery, excessive and overutilized surgery, tests and drugs, and above all our lack of preventative care; and also stop a health insurance industry whose purpose is to shut out people who have a need for health care.

Universal Health Care Access Plan for Florida has already been resubmitted to the 1992 Florida Legislative Session by Rep. Elaine Gordon. The Florida Health Care Campaign hopes to have actuarial studies completed by November, giving us all more accurate figures and savings to be realized by this plan.

Mary Balint, Sarasota County

Health Care Campaign, Venice

A more common sense approach, or a more serious consideration of HMOs' basic concepts, should have been all that was needed to indicate to hospitals, doctors, health purveyors and other interested parties that it was an impossible task not only to perform the same services as private insurance companies, but to add previous exempted coverages as dental and eyeglasses and then include a promise of lower premiums. It was a ludicrous hypothesis that never had a chance of survival.

What we have endured in this process (with no state controls) is a few "self-made" millionaires (Gold Plus) that have left the country, and hospitals found to "wholesale" prices to HMOs while charging and overcharging the insurance industry and general public _ now prostituting their own physicians to cut and/or eliminate services in order to meet profit margins.

What HMOs have accomplished is to prove hospitals are irresponsible in charges to patients; physicians are overworked, needlessly harassed for accepting too many patients, readily susceptible to malpractice claims _ all resulting in a deterioration of their image in the public eye.

The only positive arising from so many negatives is the glimpse one gets approximating the concept of what national health care would be like if it were ever adopted.

God help us _ Congress certainly isn't!

Bud Hoover, Bradenton

Self-supporting team

I would be thrilled to see a Major League Baseball team come to St. Petersburg but only if it's self-supporting.

It seems to me that an organization that can afford to pay its employees (players, etc.) hundreds of thousands of dollars a year can certainly afford to pay for a place to do business (stadium).

The $60-million needed to ready the dome for professional baseball will in one way or another come from the taxpayer. We must be realistic and put this money to better use like health care, prisons, etc.

It's time for the government to join the people by tightening their belts and getting their priorities in order.

Gary W. Lord, St. Petersburg

Pandora's box?

Re: Gay rights, discrimination because of sexual preference.

Does this issue open a door likened to Pandora's box? It's not gays or lesbians that are a source of worry, but are we allowed to discriminate against pedophiles? Their preference for children is their sexual orientation. Is this a separate issue or does it all fall under one umbrella?

Are we allowed to discriminate against the man who cut off the arms of the teen-ager after raping her? True, he's been released from prison, but his sexual preference could also fall under this "human rights amendment" and therefore he could not be refused residence, public or private.

Somehow this law should be defined and not blanket an issue that covers so much more than originally intended.

Dorothy Lind, Spring Hill

In your May 31 editorial, Tampa's profiles in courage, you state: "The laws of the United States are based on the Constitution, not on the Bible _ or, more accurately, on some people's interpretation of the Bible." Why is it so difficult for many people to understand these true words? Perhaps many don't choose to understand. Perhaps it is too difficult for a narrow/myopic mind to comprehend the diversity of us humans.

As I recently sat in the Tampa Performing Arts Center listening to opponents of the gay rights ordinance put forth their views, I noticed two avenues of reasoning dominated their arguments. First, the Bible, thus God, says no; second, homosexuals choose their orientation and therefore are due no special protection. I noticed the conviction with which these fellow human beings stated their views.

The fact is, both are debatable. And, thanks to that masterpiece, the Constitution, my convictions are no less valuable than theirs _ as long as I consider moving to Hillsborough County.

Orlando Fabelo, Clearwater

Questions about Gates

Two items in the editorial pages of the June 1 St. Petersburg Times are connected through Iran-Contra issues. Your editorial, As long as necessary, urging that the Iran-Contra investigation should be continued "as long as necessary" relates to the Blanton-Kornbluh column about CIA director nominee Robert Gates (Congress can't ignore record of CIA nominee). The writers suggest that Gates' nomination counts on the public's willingness to forget about Iran-Contra.

As citizens who do not want the unresolved Iran-Contra issue forgotten, we appreciate your making the Blanton-Kornbluh information available to your readers. We should ask the Senate Intelligence Committee to get answers for questions like these:

1. How could Gates serve as CIA Director Casey's right hand and not know what was going on with the Iran-Contra affair?

2. Why did Gates refuse to change Casey's misleading testimony of November 1986?

3. Why did Gates not act on Charles Allen's warning of the impending scandal? (Allen, national intelligence officer for counter-terrorism, warned Gates about a possible diversion of profits from Iranian arms deals to the Contras.)

It needs to be said that without commitment for the Walsh investigation to get to the truth about Iran-Contra and to uncover that truth, continued investigatory efforts will be useless. All previous efforts have been characterized by timidity, unwillingness to pursue leads into high government places, and efforts to make political capital out of these events rather than uncompromisingly to seek truth at any cost.

The administration's nomination of Gates can serve a useful purpose if it enables a responsible congressional examination of Gates' qualifications and his role in establishing, facilitating and then protecting the Casey-North illegal operation. Reason suggests only two options regarding Gates: Either he was actively involved or he was so incredibly naive that he could not be useful in a responsible intelligence position.

The danger of the secrecy which screens intelligence work is that it also screens illegal activity. We must be 100 percent sure that Robert Gates had no part in the shady dealings of Iran-Contra before we give him that magic cloak of secrecy.

Clark and Pat Bouwman, St. Petersburg

History lesson

Re: Ethnic groups are changing the face of America, by Neil Peirce, May 27.

Neil Peirce indicates that the land we (whites) call "America" was first white and of color _ any color _ last.

"America" belonged to the "American Indians," and that was essentially the "ethnic complexion" of this once-great land before European, Hispanic and others invaded.

Washington, D.C., Hollywood and the not-so-well-read have been the consistent perpetuators of the lie/myth that anything but white is a changing of the complexion we (whites) have always known.

A lesson of history from the "ethnic complexion" point of view will not only confirm who was here first, but it will also present extraordinary lessons in humanhood _ the loving and getting along with your brothers _ all brothers.

Ann Hague, St. Petersburg

Condo history

Re: After the boom, June 2. Steve Liesman states, "In the 1970s, the focus changed to that newly created creature, the condominium."

In 1962, when I was copy writer for a Clearwater advertising agency, we obtained the "Horizon House" account. It was the first condo in the area, so we had to explain that people purchased apartments in the building on Island Estates. Guess how much! Believe it or not _ just $18,000! Horizon House is still a popular residence after almost 30 years. (Wish I could have bought one in 1962.)

Bendita L. Mitchell, Indian Rocks Beach

Country first

I've voted regularly for over 50 years. In the beginning, I voted for the person I thought was the best for that office. Gradually, my thinking has me voting for the lesser of two evils.

We all know the major problems facing this nation, both foreign and domestic, so I won't go into that.

I know the St. Petersburg Times has done volumes of research and has reams of information on the politicians, from the legislators and governor of Florida to the members of Congress and the president of our country. I'd be interested in having you and any readers name just five of the aforementioned legislators who put the welfare of the United States ahead of their party's interests and their own personal gain.

Truthfully, I don't think anyone can come up with five names.

Ralph E. Reis, Hernando

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