Opinion: Letters on letters -- on healthcare reform

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On the second anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare,” health reform continues to provoke heated debate among our letter writers.

Sometimes, it’s not the stories but the letters themselves that prompt an outcry.


On March 23, The Times published several letters responding to the March 21 story, “Obama’s health reform law still a hard sell.”

Times staff writer Noam Levey wrote:

As President Obama and his allies gear up to defend the landmark healthcare law he signed two years ago, they confront an unforgiving math problem: Just a tiny fraction of Americans has experienced a major benefit from the law.

Levey cited one of the law’s “early benefits” for that fraction of Americans -- allowing adult children to remain on their parents’ health plans until age 26.

But not everyone agreed on calling that a “benefit.”

Reader David Goodwin of Los Angeles said in his Friday letter:

There are no “adult children,” only adults who act or are treated like children. There are progeny, offspring, and “my kids.” Your son maybe 24, but he is not a child, I hope. “Obamacare” and the nanny state treat people like children. They can drink, drive and vote, but are not responsible enough to pay their way, although that’s the least-expensive age bracket for buying insurance.

His view, however, didn’t sit well with those who favor the reform law.

A few hours later, by email, Laura Jaoui of Claremont shot back:

Please enlighten the public like your letter writer who think that “covering adult children costs someone or something. Nothing is free.” Indeed, parents of adult children (students often) like me are delighted to pay for keeping their kids on their health plan until the age of 26. Nothing is free.... And before the Affordable Care Act, parents weren’t allowed to keep their kids on the plans no matter how much we would willingly pay! Your letter writer should thank “Obamacare” that he will no longer have to pay for these young peoples’ healthcare!

Karen Dauphin of Agoura Hills also weighed in:

The letter writer who criticized the Affordable Care Act for extending coverage of adult children was way off base. He … implied that those making use of this provision were just leeches and slackers. The people affected by this law are those like the daughter with lymphoma in another letter -- people whose health history, even at that young age, would make insurance prohibitively expensive, if obtainable at all. Perhaps he feels that they should simply die and ‘decrease the surplus population.”

Not everyone was offended, though.

James Webster of Santa Barbara offered his take on Goodwin’s letter:

I enjoy glancing through the “political” letters you publish looking for that proverbial needle in a haystack. This morning I found one. What a great feeling it was to read a letter that didn’t make my eyes roll and wonder what this world is coming to!

The Supreme Court is expected to weigh in on some aspects of the healthcare reform law next week. And, of course, it will be a major point of contention in this fall’s election.

Expect The Times to cover all of that extensively, which will undoubtedly generate more letters, pro and con -- and more letters on the letters.


No Rx for Medicare

‘Obamacare’ and the rationing myth

Supreme Court should lift its blackout

--Sara Lessley