Insurance practice hurts patients
This legislative session, patients in Florida saw to their great dismay that measures to roll back "step therapy" practices failed to become law. Under step therapy, a patient must try and fail on one or more drugs selected by his or her health plan — primarily based on financial considerations — before coverage is granted for the drug prescribed by the patient's health care provider.
Step therapy is used to treat a wide range of diseases and chronic conditions. In Florida, the National Psoriasis Foundation sees psoriasis patients struggle with the impact of step therapy on a regular basis, often suffering painful and debilitating side effects from less effective treatments.
SB 784 by Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and HB 863 by Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, both attempted to reduce the influence of step therapy and improve physicians' ability to prescribe the best treatments available, regardless of the cost to insurance companies.
The National Psoriasis Foundation asserts that insurance company-mandated step therapy protocols are not in the best interest of patients. Subjecting patients to arbitrary, drawn-out and often costly step therapies compromises their well-being.
On behalf of our patients, we appreciate the efforts of Gaetz and Harrison, and we hope to see this issue at the forefront of our state's health care discussion in the future.
Krista Kellogg, chair, National Psoriasis Foundation board of directors, Palmetto Bay; Ron Grau, National Psoriasis Foundation board of directors, Boca Raton
Challenges for Tampa's new police chief May 9, editorial
Castor the crime-fighter
Your editorial points out that one of the most important challenges for Eric Ward, Tampa's new police chief, should be "declaring a halt to the city's practice of harassing black bicyclists in largely black east Tampa." I disagree.
Your use of the word "harassment" is inappropriate. The verdict is not yet in from a Justice Department review. If the conclusion is that this practice does not equate with racial profiling, I would agree with the assessment by Jane Castor, Tampa's departing police chief, that, at the end of the day, "the most important number is the number of people who have not been a victim of crime."
At the end of Castor's tenure, crime in the Tampa area was down by 30 percent since 2009.
Jorge E. Ponce, Trinity
Castor leaves a legacy that's shining, flawed May 9, Sue Carlton column
Chief will be missed
Tampa police Chief Jane Castor has given the citizens of Tampa over 30 years of her life and at least a dozen years of professional, ethical and progressive policing. I cannot help but believe the people of Tampa will find themselves down the road longing for the days of Castor.
It has not always been roses. But then all law enforcement agencies have internal issues from time to time. Castor has dealt with those issues as she did with everything. She has been the consummate professional.
I have watched her response to allegations that the Tampa Police Department has engaged in racist tactics while attempting to make high-crime neighborhoods safer for their residents. The Times' story on bicycle tickets seemed like a disingenuous attempt to capitalize on the subject of the day. Focusing resources where they are needed most is what a chief does.
For me, what Castor has been trying to say to the people of Tampa is that it's not who is getting tickets or arrested. It is why it is happening. If citizens in high-crime neighborhoods want a safe place to live, they must accept the consequence that people will go to jail.
Jane Castor is a person of great character with the confidence in herself and her policies that it takes to ask for a Justice Department investigation. She will be sorely missed.
Michael Jones, New Port Richey
What black moms know | May 10, Perspective
Painting with broad brush
Talk about painting with a broad brush. Black mothers are strong, authoritarian and work. White mothers are weak, seek advice and knowledge from books, and until recently were stay-at-home moms.
I'm white and grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood where most moms worked and were strong women who knew how to raise their children.
When we should be knocking down stereotypes, this article reinforces some of the worst. What an insulting article to all mothers, especially on Mother's Day.
Charles Bacchi, Palm Harbor
The pier's point, considered May 10, Perspective
I want to thank Lennie Bennett for her heartfelt and informative essay about the past and future of St. Petersburg's pier.
I have fond childhood memories of the Million Dollar Pier. My snowbird grandparents made a trip to the pier a Sunday ritual after church and lunch at the Garden Cafeteria. In those days, my grandfather could drive around the building, ask a fisherman "are they biting?" and park his Studebaker for an hour while he and my grandmother strolled inside to observe the card players grouped at tables on the first floor.
It is a generational thing. My children's memories involve the inverted pyramid and visits to the Bounty. And if plans work out, I may actually live to see the Pier Park design come to life.
Christine R. Vaughn, Harbor Bluffs
Promise keeper, breaker or both? May 10, Perspective
Keep track of the dollars
Thank you for such a thorough investigation of the funding activities for Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. I look forward to many pages in the future devoted to equally thorough investigations of the sources of money for each of the Republican candidates and prospective candidates.
Esther Kirk, Riverview