Letters to the editor – Wednesday (11-19-08)

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Support bills to boost aid for struggling Americans
Please be aware of key legislation with huge ramifications for us all. Congress returns to Washington this week for a lame-duck session. The Senate has failed to pass legislation to help millions of unemployed workers whose benefits are about to run out.
Congress has two pieces of legislation to consider: a bill to increase unemployment insurance and a bill that includes a temporary increase in medical assistance to states (FMAP) and increases in food stamp benefits and unemployment insurance.
As a not-for-profit provider of health and human services, Lutheran Services for the Aging asks that the Senate pass comprehensive legislation to help those who are suffering the most as a result of the economic downturn. We are seeing desperate families who can’t afford or manage to keep their loved ones at home, and clients concerned they will lose vital health-care services.
In October, the unemployment rate jumped to a 14-year high of 6.5 percent. Of 10.1 million Americans jobless and looking for work, 2.2 million have been out of work six months or more ó the largest number in 25 years. North Carolinians are suffering an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent.
Economists tell us that:
From now until January, people will face basic losses: jobs, homes, food and health care. People with the lowest incomes will face the most serious threats.
We must: rebuild our infrastructure; prevent state cuts; create jobs; and prevent the loss of homes now to lessen the effects of the recession.
To read more about the components of an effective recovery package, visit Towards Shared Recovery (http://www.chn.org/pdf/2008/ sharedrecovery103108.pdf).
We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Call on our senators and other elected officials to support unemployment insurance and a temporary increase in state funding to support our less fortunate neighbors.
Thank you for listening.
ó Ted W. Goins, Jr.
Goins is president of Lutheran Services for the Aging, Inc.
Help kicking the habit
The American Cancer Society’s 32nd annual Great American Smokeout is Thursday, Nov. 20. The event encourages smokers to quit for at least one day in the hope that they may decide to quit tobacco permanently.
Given that approximately 43.4 million (or one in five) U.S. adults are current smokers and smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke result in almost 443,000 premature deaths in the United States annually, successful smoking cessation efforts and the creation of smoke free environments contribute to substantial and immediate health benefits. From a business perspective, an employee who smokes costs his or her employer $3,391 in medical costs and lost productivity. People who successfully quit smoking cite toll-free quit lines and smoke-free workplaces as leading supports for adopting a tobacco-free lifestyle.
Smokers in North Carolina who want help in quitting can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free telephone counseling or referrals from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m., 7 days a week. Smokefreerowan.com offers assistance to organizations and businesses interested in voluntarily going smoke-free.
The Web site also provides a current list of smoke-free establishments in Rowan County.
ó Dr. James Cowan
Cowan is Allied Health Services director for the Rowan County Health Department.