Thursday, December 17, 2015

Three Letters that Speak for Me

Three letters to the Star Tribune editor in the past two days. Words I could have written, so thanks to these letter writers for representing me.

From today's paper, on the presidential campaign:

Is anybody interested in truly leading the nation?

Just listened to the final Republican presidential debate of 2015. I do not understand our politics today. We are surrounded by a blast furnace of hate and fear, coming almost entirely from the Republican side. Congress is locked in the politics of "no." Republicans will kill anything Obama endorses and even try to kill his already-booked accomplishments, but lack an agenda of "yes." Where are the alternatives? Or is the goal simply to emasculate the effectiveness of our government?

The Democrats don't fare a whole lot better. When you are under attack, you fight back, but while what we have is not silence, it is something close to it. Obama's presidency, in my view, has been quite consequential and will be recorded as such by posterity despite the powerful roadblocks he faced. Start with completely turning around the economic train wreck he inherited and move on to an admittedly limited reform of the health care system, one limited primarily by the perverse medical insurance system with which we are burdened and move on to the ownership of our politics by the health insurance industry.

What I understand even less than our politics is the willingness of Americans to buy into the politics of fear and hate. Why? What do they think they'll gain? Do people think we'll be more secure by beefing up an already-bloated military and putting "boots on the ground" in places where we're already hated? Do they think we'll be safer by blocking entry into our country for Muslims? The 9/11 attackers had legal visas. One of the attackers in San Bernardino, Calif., was born here.

The bottom line? Hate and fear breed hate and fear, exponentially. Our politics and the public forum are diseased. Our government is no longer a democracy. It's an oligarchy, ruled by money. Our media are owned by the oligarchs, and they govern what the public hears and sees. If this doesn't change dramatically, we may well find ourselves as victims of crypto-Nazis like Trump. Make no mistake. We are in extremely dangerous territory.

John F. Hetterick, Plymouth
From yesterday's paper on the Paris climate agreement:
Fossil fuels

I have two beautiful, smart grandchildren, and I worry that the planet we’re leaving them is going to be in crisis, with species extinction, massive storms, rising seas, unprecedented human migration and ice-cap disappearance, among other huge changes. There isn’t much I can do about this, as one person, but I can do something.

As one of my grandchildren’s presents, they are receiving three promises from me, and I hope they hold me to them: I will use 15 percent less household energy, drive 15 percent fewer miles and eat less red meat. (The last one is hard to quantify, so they will have to take my word for it.) These are not only “math word problems” for them, they are also a challenge for me, because I already try to conserve. But I can do better, and I shall. If not, there will be consequences, but that’s between me and the kids. And if many others joined me, we would make a real difference.

Mary McLeod, St. Paul
On health care costs:
Enrollment experience confirms that system is not sustainable

After just completing the health insurance enrollment process for 2016, I feel compelled to comment on just how crazy our system of health care has become. During the enrollment period, there have been several newspaper and TV news reports about how the insurance providers can’t make money in the individual market or how there is a concern over the migration of policyholders from platinum, gold and silver policies toward bronze-level policies.

There has been very little reported, however, on the plight of the unfortunate souls who find themselves in the individual private insurance group. Yes, if your income falls below the designated level for your age group and size of family, you may qualify for some level of government assistance or tax breaks. However, for those who make just a little too much — in our case $62,900 — then you are on your own.

So what does that mean? It means that you are required by law to purchase a product that will cost you somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of your gross income before you start enjoying the features and benefits of the product.

In what world is this considered affordable?

Yes, it is easy to not think too much about this when you are not faced with having to shop in this market. But beware — about 50 percent of the policies sold to date are to people between 55 and 64 years old. So if you plan to retire early or are forced into early retirement, you will need to beef up your savings to get you to the promised land (Medicare).

We all know that the only way to gain control over this runaway train is to do what nearly every other industrialized country has already done.

We need universal health care in this country.

Gary Staples, Plymouth

1 comment:

Gina said...

Agree with first and third letters, but skipped the second. Just got back from seeing my GI doc. I warned him that we'd need to get prior authorization for my primary medication because it's not listed on my new insurance company's formulary or non-formulary lists or even the specialty drug list. He was quite cheerful about it because he knows he has a compelling argument in my favor, i.e. I've been on everything else and this medication is working. But we'll see. It's ridiculous that patients and providers must spend so much time jumping through hoops that the insurance companies put in their way in order to secure proper treatment. And then they have the nerve to complain about not making a "profit." I'm one of those people in the individual plan market. This is my third insurance company in three years (for 2016) because the other two decided not to participate in MNSure to the extent that they had, i.e. they dropped or pulled the plans that individuals were buying. We definitely need to make Medicare available for everyone ages 0 -- death.