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Letters to the editor – Monday (8-10-09)

North Carolina needs universal health coverage
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently released “health care status” reports on each of the 50 states. Looking at the data for North Carolina, it is obvious that we cannot afford the status quo.
More than 17 percent of North Carolinians are uninsured, and 70 percent of them are in families with at least one full-time worker. Since 2000, average family premiums have increased by 91 percent in North Carolina; 25 percent of middle-income North Carolina families spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care. Roughly 5.1 million people in North Carolina get health insurance on the job, so a lost job means loss of insurance. The percent of North Carolinians with employer coverage declined from 64 percent to 56 percent between 2000 and 2007. In case you don’t think the uninsured are not your problem, North Carolina businesses and families shoulder a hidden health tax of roughly $1,400 per year on their premiums as a direct result of subsidizing the costs of the uninsured.
The United States not only spends more on health care than any other nation, but our rate of growth exceeds the rest of the world. Yet 43 countries have life expectancies that exceed the United States, and 40 countries have a lower infant mortality rate. A UNICEF study of child well-being found the U.S. ranked second to last when compared to 21 comparably “rich” countries based on 40 different measures. It is obvious that we are not being well served by our current system. When the argument is made that we cannot afford universal health care, I would say that we cannot afford not to have it. The status quo is not good enough.
ó Nan Lund
Salisbury
Americans need help on health care
As one of the lucky working Americans, I resent Rep.Howard Coble and his bus tour against helping Americans afford health care. Does he even live in the same country as the rest of us? My family’s health-care costs have increased every year, with no end in sight. We need help from somewhere. So unless you have a better idea, don’t oppose helping me.
ó Craig Patch
Salisbury
Reform foes use lies, scare tactics
While President Obama and Democrats in Congress are fighting to provide quality affordable health care for every American, Republicans are using lies and scare tactics to preserve the status quo for their big health insurance company friends.
We need change now. America’s middle-class families, who are struggling with skyrocketing health care costs and are having their insurance companies dictate their health care decisions, or flat-out denying them coverage altogether, need real reform now. Fortunately, there’s a solution.
The America’s Affordable Health Choices Act will fix the broken status quo in America’s health insurance system through several innovative overhauls. All Americans would be guaranteed coverage under this bill. The days of being denied coverage because of a preexisting condition, being charged higher rates because of an illness or other discriminatory practices by insurance companies would be a thing of the past.
If you like your current coverage, your local hospital, or your current physician, you will not be forced to change anything. However, you will have the option to purchase a competitive plan under a health insurance exchange that will offer private and public insurance options. In addition to competitive insurance plans, this bill would lower overall costs by promoting preventative care. In the short-term, copays and deductibles for preventative care will be cut.
This bill will also mean higher quality health care for everyone and alleviate the shortage of doctors and nurses in America. Through new incentives and scholarships, the House bill aims to encourage the very best and brightest to become doctors and nurses.
Doing nothing is not an option. America’s families and businesses struggling to cope with crushing health care costs cannot afford to have this reform fall victim to the same Republican scare tactics that keep insurance companies profitable and every American paying more for health care.
ó Diane Williams
Gold Hill
Health-care e-mails spread distortions
For the record, I am a registered independent.
I have been receiving the most outrageous e-mails containing egregious misrepresentations and outright lies concerning the health-care reform bill. Just as the Americans for Prosperity are only able to disrupt and shout down rather than debate the real issues ó they have no ideas of their own; they only want, to quote Jim DeMint, to “break Obama” ó the ultra-conservative e-mailers apparently think they have the right to lie about anything.
A good friend who lives in Georgia had received one of those “misinformation” e-mails swearing that the health care reform bill abolished heart surgery procedures for any one over age 59, like they did in England because of socialized medicine. I am not making this up.
She forwarded the e-mail to a good friend of hers who is a minister in England, who promptly responded that England had excellent national health service, as it is called, and no one was denied any type of medical care because of age. He stated that, in fact, he had a personal friend age 70 who had just undergone heart bypass surgery. He also stated that it was very compassionate care because it meant that everyone could get the medical care that they needed and that the English people are perfectly happy with their coverage.
As someone who had to pay uninsured medical expenses in excess of $12,000 (BCBS had raised my premiums in excess of $800/month and I took a chance of going uninsured for two years before my Medicare started), I am a strong believer in a government insurance option, and no, dummies, you do not have to give up your present coverage if you like what you have. It’s an option.
ó Dee Sink
Rockwell
State shouldn’t tell people how to pray
It is with some reluctance I write concerning the Social Services Board’s decision on prayer before each meeting. Board members John Blair, Ruth Kennerly and Chairperson Lillian Morgan were correct in their belief that a moment of silence shows respect for all religions. And Carl Ford was correct in saying that no one should tell him how to pray at the Social Services Board meetings. He believes in God Almighty.
The final interpretation was how it could be applied to prayer in school. In my day, the teacher’s first order of the day was to lead the class in a prepared prayer, which in effect was established religion, which the Supreme Court said was illegal under the Constitution and now comes Madeline O’Haire, the atheist.. This denied the right to freedom of expression ó no prayer in school.
Not only was this law fatally flawed in interpretation, so was Brown vs. the Board of Education, and to this day should be debated. All poor people are not the same.
About 20 years ago, I petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court concerning prayer in school. It is my belief that the state should not tell anyone how to pray. My petition dealt with the rights of all people’s religions and freedom of expression. The state should not interfere.
I have now proposed to the Salisbury-Rowan Board of Education to allow one minute or longer of individual prayer, verbally or silently, student choice.
My belief also would include no uniforms. Some parts of school policy have created larger social issues that would not be if these children were schooled as individuals.
The Department of Social Services is the nerve center for most all of life’s social ills and gains.
ó Robert Boone
Salisbury
Sotomayor isn’t court’s 1st HispanicThe The administration’s lauding of Sonia Sotomayor as the candidate for the Supreme Court is commendable if qualified. However, President Obama is regaling himself politically in alleging she is the first Hispanic-American to join the court. She was born in the United States and is Catholic.
Let it be told, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo (March 14, 1932-July 9, 1938) precedes her. Born in New York in 1870, his Hispanic lineage originated in Portugal. His family was a member of Manhattan’s Congregation Shearith Israel, a congregation whose membership consisted of Jewish people who were descendants of co-religionists who fled the Iberian Peninsula for Holland and then America because of the Spanish Inquisition. Cardozo maintained his ancestors were Marranos-Jews forced to convert to Catholicism to live but who returned to their original faith upon leaving Spain and Portugal.
The fact he never spoke Spanish nor imbibed of the Iberian culture doesn’t provide the ethical basis for questioning his origins. He came to the United States, worked, studied and became a member of the highest court in the land. He devoted his intellect to becoming an American and serving the nation by his legal career.
His first name, Benjamin, is a common name in Hispanic circles, although altered. Many Spanish names have Hebrew biblical origins: Gabriel, Emanuel, Rafael, etc. The National Association of Latino Elected Officials and the Hispanic National Bar Association do not consider him “authentic,” but they have not provided evidence to support their feelings and attitudes.
Sadly, it appears the president either did not do his research, acted for political reasons or didn’t care. This voter wants the most capable person in the chair in D.C., but not under false pretenses, and the fact several Hispanic groups define ethnicity, religion, culture etc. in their own way doesn’t make their views true.
ó Arthur Steinberg, JD
Salisbury

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