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Unpaid hospital bills emphasize need for reform

Editor: Mr. Thomas D. Barb, executive director of Brooksville Regional and Spring Hill Regional hospitals, has presented the hospitals' status report for the year ended Sept. 30, 2000. It reports that uncompensated care totaled nearly $146-million. That is, the hospitals collected only 30 cents on each dollar charged.

The deficiency is charged to other patients. The hospitals have no alternative if they are to survive and continue meeting health care needs. Most of these patients are covered by government and private insurance. Hence, insurance premiums are increased.

A radical change is needed in the way we pay for health care. The federal government ensures that everyone has the opportunity for education. Likewise, it should ensure that hospitals and other health care providers are reimbursed their full reasonable charges.

The obvious solution is a federal government-sponsored (but not federally operated) comprehensive national health insurance scheme for everyone. The Medicaid program could be the basis for such a scheme.

Some payment by patients would discourage frivolous demands for care. Such payment could be on a graduated scale or "means test." A single-party payer would simplify and thereby reduce administrative costs. Further, a standard claim for reimbursement of charges would eliminate more costs and thereby release money for patient care.

Only those who are healthy can benefit from education and play a fulfilling part in the mainstream of life.

James A. Willan, Brooksville

Edition captures the Christmas spirit

Editor: Congratulations to your editor, front-page makeup editor, writers Joy Davis-Platt and Logan Neill, and photographers Kevin White and Maurice Rivenbark for a wonderful Christmas edition of the Hernando Times.

You really captured much of the spirit of the day with an excellent selection of well-written stories and pictures. The layout design was well-done to present a real impact.

Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for continued success in the new year.

Adon Taft, Brooksville

Poor leaders behind board's cash woes

Editor: Re: School Board

I must say that I was thoroughly thrilled with the publication of Mr. Dees' letter to the Times concerning the financial drainage of the Hernando County School Board's cash reserve. Although I applaud nearly every point made by Mr. Dees, I feel that the biggest factor involved in the board's current predicament is more simple: a lack of leadership.

For too long now, no single board member has defined himself or herself as a member willing to really handle the full mantle of responsibility. This lack of leadership is contrary to many of the election promises given by certain board members.

The job of board members is a difficult one, but when they place themselves in a position to dictate fundamental changes in the way the children of our community are educated, they must be accountable for all decisions made _ good or bad. Currently, the board cannot help but jump behind each other in order to fend off criticism, not only of the current cash crisis, but of any other commentary that may not have a rosy glow about the board.

As a longtime member of this community, I can safely say that I will have more respect for the board member who "tells it like it is" as opposed to the "ummmmm, ahhh" attitude that the current board is passing off as accountability.

Mr. Dees made reference to the candidacy of former board member Steven Galaydick. I am not here to endorse Mr. Galaydick, but I can say this: Mr. Galaydick, as the bearer of bad news to certain board members who had earmarked money for "special" projects, was not afraid of the consequences of his representations.

I hope that ultimately the board members will live up to their election promises and have a more commanding presence within the education community.

Unfortunately, it seems that some members are more concerned with doing what is necessary (or unnecessary) to keep their position on the board as opposed to doing the job itself.

Chuck Zimoski, Spring Hill

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