Splitting the cost of kids' healthcare
Re "Stealing healthcare from babies," Opinion, Aug. 1
The explanation for President Bush's stance is simple. He thinks that the best government is no government. Expansion of a successful State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, goes against those beliefs. Creation of bloated and poorly executed programs, like the Medicare drug benefit, supports them. If SCHIP succeeds in insuring all of America's children, more and more people may start asking why we can't do the same for all of America's uninsured.
Davin SwansonEl Segundo
Ronald Brownstein fails to admit an important caveat. The Bush administration does not propose "stealing healthcare from babies." Bush is proposing an expansion as well, but for less than $50 billion. A legitimate Bush objection is that the Senate bill would give coverage to the children of many families who can well afford private healthcare options. For myself, I'd say the more coverage the merrier -- in fact I am all for universal healthcare. I agree with Brownstein on most of his criticisms of Bush's resistance to this bill. However, the headline is certainly a blatant example of media bias.
John SaylorLong Beach
Bush supports reauthorizing this program with enough new funding to ensure that no one currently enrolled loses coverage. His budget also calls for enough funding so that eligible children not already enrolled can be covered. But the Senate and House bills call for a massive expansion of the program to those in higher-income families, moving them from private insurance onto public assistance. The president does not support those proposals. The bills proposed by Congress are not about helping low-income children; they're about using SCHIP to stage a gradual government takeover of American healthcare. Congress should concentrate on keeping its commitment to the low-income children SCHIP is meant to help.
Tom LorentzenSan Francisco
The writer is regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In reading Brownstein's excellent piece about Bush's opposition to medical coverage for kids, and given Bush's standing against abortion and stem cell research, I am reminded of the saying: For the president, human rights begin at conception and end at birth.
Jan GoldsmithVan Nuys
Where are curbs on prescriptions?
Re "Reckless Rx in the desert?" July 29
How does a physician subscribing to "first do no harm" find himself or herself prescribing either drugs that are inherently harmful or drugs at hazardous levels? The answer is not complex. "Follow the money" is all one needs to do.
I am not surprised at addicted doctors, greedy pharmacists or enabling administrators. That they will always be with us has led to the creation of oversight agencies, and I am bewildered at the lack of even a mention of them and at their seeming inaction in this case.
In 1996, the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement established the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System. This is a database of all Schedule II and III prescriptions in California, whom they are written by and whom they are written for. Patterns of abuse are supposedly evident when all prescription activity is examined. Why didn't this amount of prescription activity arouse anyone's suspicions? I would ask the same question of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA is the licensing authority for Schedule II and III narcotics and as such possesses substantial enforcement resources.
I would also ask the Medical Board of California how it is that a licensed physician can be cited for two DUIs and not trigger a board investigation. These agencies should have figured prominently in controlling the situation in Rancho Mirage. That they didn't is disturbing and bears an explanation from them.
Michael Cox MDSanta Barbara
The writer is an anesthesiologist.
It's the system that's in bad shape
Re "Workers are told to shape up or pay up," July 29
Charging out-of-shape workers is an inspired way to help bring health costs under control, but it doesn't go far enough. Why not have employees compete in a 5K run for coverage? Award health insurance to only the top finishers. Once we've eliminated fat people, we can take aim at vegans (that diet can't be healthy), bicyclists (a dangerous lifestyle choice, considering today's traffic) and women (they're always getting pregnant -- very expensive). These ideas are surefire cost-cutters.
In truth, this cruel and shortsighted scheme just reveals how desperately we need universal healthcare similar to that in every other civilized nation on Earth, for the simple reason that profit-driven insurance companies will not stop squeezing patients until they have eliminated anyone who might actually need a doctor.
Sure, go after the fatties. But remember: You're next.
Garrett SodenCulver City
Charging employees unless they meet weight, cholesterol and blood-pressure guidelines is an outrage. This approach persecutes individuals suffering from a chronic disease that should be treated with science, not economics.
Obesity is the epidemic of our generation. It is not the result of any singular trigger; it is the outcome of a series of systemic failures that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner.
We owe this to the victims of the obesity epidemic -- children, adolescents and minorities who bear the greatest portion of this burden.
Lisbeth K. SinclairLos Angeles
This is dire news indeed for countless overworked, underpaid wage slaves. Consider that many such people are increasingly required to put in long hours working in an office cubicle. Additionally, because of time and budget constraints, they may well be subsisting on cheap, fatty foods.
It's a bit presumptuous to demand that such individuals be the robust picture of health.
Charles HoffmanVan Nuys
Concern for young Marine recruits
Re "Bound for the Corps," July 29
I was distraught and saddened after reading this article. The photos of newly recruited Steven Dellinger and Daniel Motamedi, frolicking at home before being shipped off to Iraq as Marine buddies, is in sharp contrast to the war-sacrificed service personnel displayed in your obituary column.
Do you suppose Dellinger and Motamedi, barely older than boys and, in Motamedi's case at 17, not even eligible to vote, will be as joyful when they return home with limbs blown off and psyches forever scarred?
My question assumes, of course, that they will be fortunate enough to return home alive. The war will end when recruits like Dellinger and Motamedi throw down their weapons and refuse to fight, and the American people finally rise up and drive from our midst the warmongers at the highest levels of the government who brought us this inhumane debacle.
Kim W. CarneyPasadena
This story shows once again how hypocritical our society is. One boy's parents support President Bush's decision to invade Iraq but do not want their son to join the Corps for fear he may have to serve in Iraq, and possibly die.
Why it is OK for someone else's son or daughter to die for their beliefs?
The Times also writes, "The four do not fit the stereotype of Marine recruits -- poor blacks and Latinos from the inner cities, lower-class whites from the rural South and Midwest, troubled kids escaping broken homes." As a former Marine staff noncommissioned officer, let me clarify something. Marines are the top of the recruit tier in our country. I feel The Times owes all current and former Marines an apology, for we are not the dregs that you would like to make us out to be.
Lynda DavisLong Beach
I have to take exception to the remarks of Steven Dellinger's father Jim: "I'm old-school. . . . I think any kid right out of high school should go to boot camp or something similar. That would straighten a lot of these kids out." What?
Having them go to boot camp and most likely Iraq and then for them to return home possibly with post-traumatic stress disorder or minus a limb or maybe in a box? That's not old-school, that's asinine.
Steve WalkerLa Habra
Pay attention to infrastructure
Re " 'Cars started flying,' " Aug. 2
Today, the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis lies in the Mississippi River. Is anyone paying attention?
People in state and local governments know all too well the challenge of keeping up with infrastructure maintenance -- there is not enough money in the budget to do everything that needs to be done.
Bridge collapses injure and kill people and cause millions of dollars in damage. On top of that, the economic impact of the Minnesota collapse will be far-reaching and long-term.
Our infrastructure is no longer young, and we need to make the investments to prevent these failures. We can pay a little now or a lot more later. It's our choice, and we had better decide soon.
Richard G. LittleLos Angeles
The writer is director of the Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy at USC.
No indication of terrorism in the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis? I don't buy it. It's the direct result of the terrorist-in-chief in the White House bankrupting the country with war, ignoring urgent needs such as infrastructure repairs.
Think this bridge collapse is bad? There's much more to come in cities all over the country.
Al Qaeda will never destroy us. President Bush and the rest of the traitorous Republicans, the wimpy Democrats and, worst of all, the comatose American public who care more about "American Idol" than the American republic are doing it for them.
I bet the bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates are in real good shape.
Susan HarriganSan Diego