Editor's Note: The following is a letter sent to state Sen. Nancy Argenziano, R-Crystal River. It is being reprinted here at the authors' request.
We read with great interest your reply letter in the Citrus Times on June 12 and your interview on June 30 with Tom Franklin's local access TV channel. We commend you for educating us on the legislative process and the challenges that you have to face.
As the leader of the Senate Health Committee, you have the difficult responsibility of seeking a solution to the impasse on health care issues with the House of Representatives. As our local representative, we are sure you will be interested in the concerns of Citrus County physicians and citizens.
Doctors and patients alike recognize that medical malpractice is a complex problem. We understand that there is not one simple solution, but that some options are more important than others. A hard malpractice cap is number one, because it brings stability into chaotic courtrooms and insurability risks. The Department of Health and Human Services, our federal nonpartisan institution, reviewed this issue in all 50 states and did report that the caps were vital for any tort reform effort.
In California, caps have worked. The alleged delay from the caps' establishment until the date that insurance rates actually came down had to do with the lengthy process of a new law being ratified by the court system.
Please support the creation of review panels in a presuit period as they limit frivolous suits. We believe you have supported this before.
A patient compensation fund (PCF) will add only another bureaucratic layer and become another deep pocket in the system. They have failed in several states and we just do not need another failing option (Pennsylvania and New Jersey are examples).
We, the medical community, are not puppets of the insurance companies. This malpractice crisis has come to the surface because of high insurance rates, yet this was just the spark that caused the flame.
Rates fixing is not the answer to our crisis. We need to address the decades-old problems of frivolous lawsuits, bad insurance company decisions, defensive medicine requirements and absence of ethical standards by some trial attorneys.
Responsible doctors will not leave the state if they do not receive an immediate rate drop. The medical community recognizes that good results are not always evident overnight, and will continue serving Citrus County if there is evidence for a valid tort reform. Many of us have endured training in medical school and residency for over 15 years. Waiting two to four years for true reform is worth our efforts.
You reported that 400 doctors have "severed ties" with the Florida Medical Association (FMA) because of the current malpractice crisis and their representation. One of us made several calls throughout the state and talked to colleagues and only found information about a so-called Coalition for Patient's Rights (CPR). This group did not give a list of members or phone numbers in order to certify any of the alleged 400 doctors.
Actually, it seems that this group has quite strong ties to the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (as frequent speakers). Please, believe me, Senator, you will not find 400 doctors in this state who would want to be associated with such a group.
The FMA does not speak for all doctors in this state. But it is one representing group and its majority does want malpractice reform with a $250,000 cap in pain and suffering compensation.
We, the physicians of Citrus County, have organized and gone to Tallahassee to rally. We have met with community groups, the media, conducted an open debate with Citrus County trial attorneys and illustrated our plight to innumerable patients. Since April 30, we have attempted to meet with you on several occasions without success. This is why we resort to this open letter.
We hope this will spur you to truly represent the best interest of all your constituents when you return to Tallahassee.
Dr. Gustavo Fonseca and Dr. Mark Fernandez,
Citrus County Medical Society
Glidewell's views on health care
reek of sense of entitlement
Editor: Re: Let us study Canada's health care system, eh?, June 29 column by Jan Glidewell.
Glidewell apparently feels we all should be happy to pay more taxes as long as those taxes go toward the growing list of entitlements he supports, and that we, our children and grandchildren will have to pay for in the future. His recent column on health care reflects his left-wing, Robin Hood view that as long as someone else pays, what's wrong with free health care for everyone?
He commented that "people who have the privilege (health care that they have paid for) are much less likely to see it as a right than those who do not." Well, Jan, you mean people who have worked and earned something are not as likely to want to be forced to pay for the needs of others who have not earned it and will not pay for it?
There is no free lunch, Mr. Glidewell. Americans have the right to earn their own way. When did everything from free university education, to free health care, to subsidized child care credits become entitlements?
Charity has a very important place in society, but our government is not, and should not be, that place.
By the way, as I am certain Mr. Glidewell knows, Canadian drug prices are lower for some drugs because the Canadian government restricts the prices that can be charged for them, not because of socialized medicine.
Prudishness won't let us take
honest look at nudist camps
Editor: Re: Children aren't mature enough for nudist camps, June 24 letter to the editor responding to Can't critic see camp is nude, but not lewd?, June 23 column by Jan Glidewell.
I think that U.S. Rep. Mark Foley should do a bit of research on nudist camps and children. All of the children involved with this camp have been nudists for a good many years. This summer camp has run for more than 10 years. These kids will have a much better feeling of self without all the body consciousness that most of us have.
I am not a nudist. I have never been to a nudist camp. But travels to Europe and the Far East demonstrated that nudity on beaches and certain work environments was more the norm. Raised as a prude, I began to ask questions. Surprise! I found that some of the best-educated Republicans with Ph.D.s and other esoteric degrees were nudists. Frank discussions led me to believe that nudism at a young age would be much better than the repressive morality that most of us experienced.
Where did the moral burqas come from in our great country? Why is it normal for nudity to be displayed on the front page of newspapers in Europe? Television ads all over Europe display nudity as normal.
Are we Americans correct, that all nudity is bad? Perhaps the Taliban is correct and all people should wear burqas.
Mr. Foley is an uninformed politician. He understands that most of the electorate was raised to be prudes. I remain a prude. Not now as much as was drummed into me as a kid, but enough to know I will not become a nudist.
From discussions and a bit of reading, I think the kids in this camp are better equipped to handle the big world and their bodies than most of us were as kids, or even adults.
The one good thing I see happening will be stories by real investigative reporters. Let the truth prevail.