A crisis is just around the corner for Florida's independent pharmacists and their customers. As of July 9, many independent pharmacists will no longer be allowed to serve Medicaid and Florida Healthy Kids members, which constitute a large portion of independent pharmacists' customers.
Amerigroup, the managed care organization that manages Florida's Medicaid program, announced in May that independent pharmacies could only continue serving Medicaid patients for the next two months. After that, pharmacists were told to "help members transfer existing prescriptions to a participating pharmacy upon their request."
By forcefully transitioning Medicaid patients out of independent pharmacies' care, Amerigroup and its partner pharmacy benefits manager, CVS Caremark, are creating a system that hurts all Floridians and benefits only themselves. Medicaid patients will no longer have the freedom to choose their pharmacy; pharmacists whose businesses rely on Medicaid recipients are on the rocks; and pharmacy customers who depend on rural, independent pharmacies for access to care will have to find another way to get their medications.
Even independent pharmacies willing to accept the terms of Amerigroup's Medicaid reimbursement rates are shut out of the deal. So instead of keeping taxpayer dollars at small businesses in Florida, the program needlessly ships money out of the state to Amerigroup and CVS Caremark, each Fortune 500 companies. Florida's economy, independent pharmacies and pharmacy customers would all be better served by preserving access to independent pharmacies and keeping Florida's money in Florida.
Dave Marley, PharmD., president, Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency, Washington
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Natural treasures in peril
The declining quality of Florida's beloved waterways has finally come to national attention with a New York Times article last week headlined, "Florida struggles to overcome threats to freshwater springs."
While the article spotlights springs to the north of Hillsborough County, if it had included Hillsborough County's Lithia Springs there would be some very telling pictures to illustrate the decline. Not only has the Alafia River been made unavailable to swimmers due to pollution caused by phosphate mines, now the spring that feeds the river is being overpumped during times of extreme drought. What once was a clear, sandy bottom is now covered with a layer of green algae. Swimmers enjoying the beauty of nature at the spring hear a constant buzz from the nearby pump. Swimmers are now coming home from the spring with rashes from the algae.
There aren't many places in Hillsborough County where residents can enjoy the natural beauty of real Florida - uncommercial, serene and inspiring. Something must be done before this treasure is no longer there to enjoy. The Tampa Bay area will be visited by thousands soon for the Republican National Convention. Lithia Springs should be something to be proud of, something we tell visitors not to miss, not just an example of another county extracting its natural beauty at the expense of future generations.
Christine Hale, Riverview
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Former coach found guilty - June 23
Train adults, set guidelines
"Do not trust men with children" appears to be a common misconception expressed during the intense media coverage of the Jerry Sandusky trial. As a grandfather and former Scout leader, I am dismayed at such a narrow view of a serious yet complicated problem. While the need to raise our children to recognize and report abuse is imperative, we also need to train adults to recognize and avoid situations where abuse commonly occurs.
The Boy Scouts require all leaders to be trained how to avoid being alone with a child other than their own. A one-on-one session with a child can be held in private but must be in full view of other children and adults. Naturally, showering alone with a child should never be tolerated. If all adult leaders were trained accordingly, those few but dangerous Jerry Sanduskys would have much less of an opportunity to abuse our precious children.
Eric H. Jouett, Bradenton
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The 'P' or not the 'P' in Ybor? Try both
June 23, Sue Carlton column
In these tough economic times, the city of Tampa should take the least expensive option and leave the street signs in Ybor City as they are. Why are we even talking about changing an alleged spelling error? Because the Republicans are coming to town? The same group that contains a significant number of xenophobes who applaud Arizona's tough immigration law? The folks who get apoplectic when the voice on the phone says "press 2 for English"? Do we think they know how to spell "seventh" in Spanish?
Charles E. Lehnert, Riverview
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The essentiality of journalism
June 24, commentary
Digging beneath the spin
The issues addressed in this article have been on my mind lately. It is the journalists who do the extensive research, which must be accurate or they face legal challenges. It is the journalists, who, as part of their job, break through the spin (most of the time) and expose and provide the public with the real truth. They dig beneath the propaganda and argument of politics and court cases.
Without a free flow of well-researched, unbiased truth that is uncorrupted by "Wikipedia-style random opinion passing for truth," there would be no checks in place to prevent society from crumbling from corruption.
Emily Kaczmarek, St. Petersburg
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Rising stress on one test - June 24
Fear and control
Does the FCAT stress your child? You? The teachers? Absolutely. It is supposed to. FCAT is all about fear and control. Its "high-stakes" design is pure psychological torture designed to measure only a very narrow facet of left-brain-dominated automatic thinking and response.
It teaches children there are few choices in life (namely a, b, c or d), and that reading is not for pleasure but for someone else's purpose - namely to answer irrelevant questions about subject matter that is dead to students.
Also, the new teacher evaluation system judges teachers on left-brain-dominated programmed behavior (namely how the whiteboard is configured). The evaluations leave out the right-brained creative aspect of intuition, ideas, originality, individuality and all that truly drives learning.
FCAT and the teacher evaluation system are soul-deadening stuff.
Gabriela West, Tampa