1. Letters to the Editor

Sunday's letters: What Obamacare did for me

Published Jan. 23, 2017

Affordable Care Act

What Obamacare did for me

Jan. 1, 2014, was the day my insurance through the Affordable Care Act went into effect. As a small-business owner, and a soon to be 57-year-old who had two joint replacements due to arthritis, I was thrilled to be one of millions who now had the opportunity to buy health insurance.

Little did I know that within weeks of receiving my newly minted insurance card I would find a lump in my right breast. The one tiny light was that I had insurance. It was the one thing I did not have to worry about. Many tests and waiting for what seemed like an eternity later, the diagnosis was in. That word no one wants to ever hear — cancer. Surgery was scheduled. I was lucky. The surgeon said we caught it in time. In total, I had two surgeries resulting in a lumpectomy and over a dozen lymph nodes removed, followed by months of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments.

I had excellent doctors, hospitals, treatment centers — the care was second to none. There are still tests and followup doctor visits, and there are many more to come. Beating cancer isn't easy, but every time I get a hug from one of my grandchildren, have a long conversation with one of my daughters, or hold my husband's hand, I know the fight is worth it. I am alive — I have my family, my home, my business.

Without the Affordable Care Act, I would have had two choices — fight by seeking health care that I knew would bankrupt us, or give up and die. So far, my insurance company has been billed about $200,000.

The Affordable Care Act is not perfect. But it was a great step forward in helping millions of people across the country. Repealing the law at this point would be like bulldozing an entire house down when there's just a leak in the roof.

Regina Hebert, Sun City Center

DeVos pledges to not dismantle public education | Jan. 18

My story of school choice

I don't like Donald Trump, and I didn't vote for him. But I like what I hear about Betsy DeVos, the person he nominated to be U.S. secretary of education. She believes in school choice, and if she can help more parents have it, she will help children across America. I know firsthand. I am the mother of five amazing children. Among them, they have experienced public schools, private schools and home school.

Public schools work great for most children, but not for my three youngest. I adopted Nicholas, 15, Danielle, 13, and Joseph, 12, from the state medical foster care system. Nicholas has spina bifida, is wheelchair bound and suffers from a cognitive learning delay. Danielle has autism, cerebral palsy and an anxiety disorder. Joseph has severe dyslexia.

My oldest child, now an adult, thrived in public school. But it was a nightmare for Danielle and Joseph. Lunchroom noise was torture for Danielle, and the internal stress made her physically ill. I decided it was best to home school. And three years ago, I got help from a new type of school choice scholarship in Florida called a Gardiner Scholarship. It's available to students with certain special needs, and Nicholas and Danielle were eligible.

It changed our lives. The scholarship gives me the power to create an education program that's just right for my children. I found out recently that Betsy DeVos gave $100,000 to help get the Gardiner program up and running. I almost cried when I heard. It told me she understands that all children don't fit the same mold, but all should still have the opportunity to reach their maximum potential.

I think if we all took a deep breath and stopped being so political, we'd see it too.

Dorothy Famiano, Spring Hill

Anti-crash plan revived | Jan. 18

Drivers just aren't ticketed

Traffic laws are not really enforced. Law enforcement will cite all sorts of statistics, but it is not the number they ticket that matters. It is the number who violate but do not get a ticket. And I think it is much worse now than three years ago.

If there were a realistic chance of getting a ticket for speeding (the majority do on Interstate 75 near where I live in south Hillsborough County), reckless and careless driving, weaving in and out of traffic, following too closely, people would not behave that way.

So insurance is higher, huge crashes happen, etc. Lots of innocent people pay the price in insurance, delays and sometimes with their lives. The majority of drivers feel the traffic laws do not apply to them.

Carl Wales, Sun City Center

Number of uninsured could rise | Jan. 18

Health care's magic wand

The Congressional Budget Office assessment says that if Republicans repeal Obamacare, then 18 million more Americans will be without health insurance in a year.

Paul Ryan said the assessment was meaningless because it failed to take into account the fact that Harry Potter would conjure up insurance for everybody. Or maybe Ryan said the assessment was meaningless because it failed to consider the Republican replacement plan. As far as which is more likely, personally my money's on Harry Potter.

David Chafin, Palm Harbor

Obama shortens Manning's sentence | Jan. 18

Keep Manning in jail

I am profoundly disappointed in President Barack Obama's decision to commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning. While I am a strong believer in mercy and redemption, there is a bigger issue here.

As a West Point graduate and former U.S. Army officer assigned to a nuclear-capable unit, I understand well that commanders, officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers all are accountable for securing classified information vital to our great nation's security interests.

While I also understand that Manning has served extensive time for leaking thousands of pages of classified information, her commutation sends a dangerous and confusing message to our service members that can only be regarded as a pass for such conduct.

Henry P. Hoffman, St. Pete Beach


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