Health reform scores successes | Jan. 18, letter
Health reform figures not so rosy
While it is true that health insurance premium increases have decreased, from 34 percent in 2004-09 to 26 percent in 2009-14, the improvement has been at the expense of out-of-pocket expenses, which have increased by 47 percent in the last five years to $4,823 per family versus the previous five years.
The claim of 10 million more people "benefiting from health care coverage" is often misquoted. About 10 million have signed up, but only about half have actually purchased insurance, which is a general industry consensus among health plans.
Thirdly, it is true that the increase in health care spending has dropped. However, according to the Institute of Medicine and others, spending has stabilized because people are forgoing care primarily because they cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs. This is also cited as a likely prime contributor to the near epidemic increase in chronic disease, particularly diabetes.
Lastly, the claim that "over $1 trillion" in health care spending is due to "insurance bureaucracy and profits" is an Internet myth. Insurance costs or profits are not a component of health care spending statistics. Furthermore, the insurance billing management burden has substantially decreased through automated electronic medical record systems.
James Doulgeris, Palm Harbor
Don't punish success | Jan. 22, letter
Wealth is more than money
This is another a letter about the plight of the rich. If you watch the graphs, the rich are getting richer while the rest of us are maintaining more of a flat line.
Wealth is made on the backs of the rest of us. In an interview, Anderson Cooper said that he was raised around rich people and that they were no happier than the rest of us. True wealth is having great family and friends who can help you in need; respect; confidence; independence; and health.
Edward Gutierrez, Tampa
After 40 years, he's exonerated | Jan. 24
Against the death penalty
A North Carolina man convicted in a 1976 double slaying is freed after a special review. DNA evidence proved this man did not commit the crime. Another person is freed because of evidence overturning a conviction. If this person had been executed, where would his freedom be today?
This is another reason why the death penalty should be abolished. How many cases in America have been overturned by DNA evidence? How much longer do we need to kill people to learn it's the wrong way to govern a Christian nation?
Tom S. Brown, Pinellas Park
Container deposit needed | Jan. 22, letter
Help for the environment
I agree with this letter. I am a snowbird from London, Ontario, and back home you rarely see beer bottles, cans, wine bottles or liquor bottles littering roadsides. In Ontario you pay a deposit on all of these and when you return the empties you get your deposit returned in full.
The breweries say they get over 90 percent of all bottles and cans returned. The cans go to smelters and the bottles are sterilized then reused by the brewers. We keep all this glass from filling our dump sites and thereby prolong the lifespan of these sites.
Robert Grand, Spring Hill
Don't punish families' hard work | Jan. 24, letter
Estate tax rate is fair
The letter writer thinks estate or inheritance taxes punish small business owners, farmers and others. As an estate planning attorney, I disagree. The profit that accrues to those in the upper economic stratosphere needs to be taxed. The next generation has little to nothing to do with the "hard work" of their parents. If the effective tax rate is 20 percent or even more, it is eminently fair that the succeeding generation pay that tax, through loans if necessary, so that they have some burden for the wealth they are inheriting.
To say that the succeeding generation has no responsibility for their inherited wealth is just unfair and violates a basic concept of our economic system: that we are a meritocracy where all deserve at least a simulacrum of an equal chance in society.
This tax is fair also because our system has provided many benefits to that hardworking couple who built a small business or a profitable farm. It's also just because the next generation of the wealthy usually receives lots of advantages from their parents during the parents' lifetimes. The estate tax is one of the fairest taxes of all, and the argument that it amounts to double taxation is a red herring.
Mark Brandt, Dunedin
7 pier ideas go to next stage | Jan. 24
Best of both worlds
I look forward to hearing all the pier concepts at the Coliseum on Feb. 11-12, having studied them online.
As a longtime visitor to Weedon Island Preserve, I am instantly a fan of the "Blue Pier" concept of urban lagoons on existing land. Those who visit Weedon enjoy the quiet splendor and natural gifts of a pristine estuary so close to our city. The "Blue Pier" concept of urban lagoons is a world-class idea whose time is coming. Imagine a quiet Sunday morning kayak paddle among mangroves and critters — a stone's throw from our beautiful skyline and amenities of Beach Drive. I find it hard to conjure a better vision of the best of two worlds.
Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg
Film subsidies a flop for taxpayers | Jan. 25, letter
Lights, camera, benefits
This letter on film subsidies seems to miss the point. The writer maintains that municipalities sacrifice millions in tax subsidies to film companies for little return. Seems like faulty logic to me. The tax subsidies are in the form of taxes the film companies do not pay. If they film elsewhere, they pay $0 in taxes here. If the Tampa Bay region gets even $1 from the film project, that's $1 we wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
Larry Alter, Seminole