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A possible new state park at Owens Lake; healthcare reform; UC Hastings College of the Law’s discrimination dilemma.

A bright idea for a park

Re “DWP pitches solar farm, state park at Owens Lake,” Dec. 18

The possible creation of an Owens Lake state park or reserve for this region’s enormously rich wildlife populations as part of a plan to save water, control dust and generate solar power deserves praise.

This creative solution, at this time only a concept, would help Los Angeles and help protect the tens of thousands of migrating shorebirds and waterfowl that have returned to Owens Lake.

It would be a multi-benefit package of historic importance.

Mike Prather

Lone Pine

The writer is past president, Eastern Sierra Audubon.

Healthcare: Taking the pulse

Re “Senate healthcare bill clears a major hurdle,” Dec. 21

This weekend, the Democrats kept their majority together to allow a healthcare bill to move forward without one Republican joining along.

What is the matter with Republicans and their leadership -- if they have any? Why focus only on making sure this legislation will fail?

Finally, we’ve got a healthcare bill that would make sure most Americans had healthcare. It’s not perfect. It could be better with 100 senators pitching in and working together for all Americans.

Eileen Murphy

Huntington Beach

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Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) got hundreds of millions of dollars in state pork for their votes on healthcare.

What the heck is wrong with Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein? They sold California down the river for nothing. Hey, you two! Get back in there and renegotiate! Your votes are worth at least $1 billion.

Thomas Lecoq

Apple Valley

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My thanks to the Obama administration for tackling healthcare reform early. It has given us the opportunity to see the values of the two Republican Parties we have in Congress.

The honest Republicans stand for less government interference in people’s lives and businesses.

Then we have the lying Republicans. They claim they are for government that will benefit the people, but are actually for big government that will fund the insurance kleptocracy.

One of these parties has a future; one of them does not.

Gary Stephenson

Redondo Beach

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Re “Core values,” Editorial, Dec. 17

The Times has generally been on target in its editorials on the healthcare debate, which makes its endorsement of the emasculated non-reform package so baffling.

Mandating insurance coverage for all while providing no real means of controlling costs is harm, not reform. And it’s OK because there will be subsidies to “help some afford it”? If you are not one of the “some,” you will likely be one of the broke. Or dead.

The claim that insurers won’t be allowed to charge more for preexisting conditions is misleading. Finally, the provision to allow insurers to sell across state lines will take away protections and coverage already in place for more than half the people in the country.

To the Progressive Caucus: Fix it, break it up or kill it.

Matt Jocks

San Jacinto, Calif.

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While The Times’ commentary correctly states the three primary goals of reform, current proposals only achieve one of them: extending coverage (potentially) to some who currently can’t afford it. The consensus of current analyses indicates that medical costs will continue to rise unabated, and improved quality of care is simply wishful thinking.

Government cannot control the costs of goods and services -- only the prices paid for them. If prices paid do not cover costs, goods and services will disappear or be rationed. To believe legislation will improve quality of care without additional cost is delusional.

The legislation would lay the foundation for reform only in the sense that the federal government will control healthcare rather than patients, service providers or state insurance regulators.

Scott Perley

Irvine

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The Times reports that the “Medicare hospital trust fund . . . will become insolvent by 2017.” And yet you support the Senate bill that will cut $500 billion from Medicare.

I suppose this means that Medicare will now become insolvent by when -- 2013? Perfect. Just in time for me to have to use it.

The Times better wake up to the fact that its own “core values” should be to represent the interests of readers in the senior demographic, about the only people still buying newspapers.

This bill ruins Medicare and is not in the interest of seniors.

Joe Wiemeyer

Porter Ranch

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Too many citizens -- including some who write letters to the editor -- are complaining about things they don’t like in the healthcare bills being considered by Congress. These people need to be reminded that the existing system is economically unsustainable, is unhealthy and is a sham.

Any legislation that makes everyone pay their share of the costs, prevents an insurer from denying care that it has promised, holds down the increase in costs and pays providers to keep us healthy -- not merely alive -- will be an improvement over the existing mess. If it isn’t a big enough improvement, or if it causes new problems, we’ll know it, and we’ll demand that our representatives do more. The present situation is bad enough that it’s worth trying some new approaches.

We should be glad that Democrats in Congress are taking a long, hard look at the situation and are determined to improve it.

Bob Gerecke

Claremont

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True healthcare reform was doomed from the start. Why?

No. 1: The person with the voice and power to make the case for it -- the president -- decided to sit back and let the process do its work, grinding it into sawdust.

No 2: President Obama describes healthcare reform mainly in terms of financial and political imperatives. These are core Republican concerns and values. By going this route, not only has he allowed opponents to frame the issue, he has assisted their efforts to defeat reform.

To get true national healthcare reform will require a Reaganesque president willing to forcefully shake America’s conscience and frame the issue as the defining aspect of national morality, self-respect and shared sacrifice that indeed it is -- right versus wrong, day versus night, good versus evil.

Only then can the discourse rise above all of the bean-counting special interests (insurance and drug companies, party politics, hospitals, doctors, lawyers, cable news, the comfortably compensated class) that, left unchecked, nibble it to death like a thousand ducks.

Tim Clark

Los Angeles

Not a simple case for a law school

Re “Christians vs. law school,” Editorial, Dec. 16

The Times grossly oversimplifies the legal and moral issues surrounding UC Hastings College of the Law’s decision to deny “recognized student organization” status to a Christian group on campus that discriminates against gays and lesbians.

Your editorial assumes that a group’s ban on individuals with a different sexual orientation does not discriminate against “who an applicant is” but only against his or her beliefs. I doubt anyone would suggest public schools can discriminate against Christians as long as what’s being banned is Christian “beliefs” and not “who a Christian is.”

Student groups cannot discriminate in a public school where that group has the subsidy of student activity fees that are paid by all students. Students should not have to pay for the activities of a group that will not have them as a member.

The Christian club runs no risk of an influx of nonbelievers determined to undermine the club. You are fighting for a principle that is not even necessary for Christians to do their work.

Steven Guess

Mission Viejo

The writer is a juris doctor candidate at the UC Hastings College of the Law.


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