Letters to the editor published in the September 2, 2009, edition of The Explorer.

We'll be paying more for the same abuses

Are AHCCCS members considered uninsured? I wonder, because over the weekend I had the privilege of going into one of the Northwest Hospital's Urgent Care facilities and rub shoulders with some of my neighbors who seemed to all be on public access (medical welfare).

They didn't seem to mind, though; in fact some seemed to be quite proud of their status, grateful you could even say, for the attention. "Do you have insurance?" the registration clerk asked. "No," quite belligerently, "I'm on AHCCCS."

Sitting in the waiting room I noticed several similarities: 1.

Few had identification, even though a photo ID is required. They claimed they left it at home, in another car, etc. They still were seen;

2. Most didn't pay the co-pay, which ranges from $1 to $5. They were eating Big Macs, drinking Starbucks, and looked quite well-groomed with their new manicures and tattoos, though, but when asked for the money they, again quite belligerently, informed the clerk they weren't going to pay. I didn't see any of them being held against their will or chased to the parking lot.

3. Speaking of the parking lot, I saw very few, if any, clunkers. Oh, and most of these were single parents with several children in tow. I'm sure there are adequate government checks to ensure that these cases of fraud are the exceptions, rather than the rules, but, maybe not.

Maybe this is what the new health care world will look like. It's just that more of us will be paying more for the same abuses.

John M. Ross, Marana

Bully for Al; he sits and takes lumps

Sen. Al Melvin posted his near-term town hall meeting schedule in The Explorer.

Al frequently meets with LD26 constituents, including the radicals who disagree with him. He cordially and politely endures their abuse, while listening intently to everyone's point of view, providing a forum for thoughtful exchange. Al takes his job as the people's representative very seriously.

Contrast Al's approach to public service with that of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Gabby avoids any and all possibility of any public interaction with her constituency, choosing instead to issue press releases and hide behind her staff.

Nancy Pelosi issued strict orders that Democrat reps not host any town halls or other public forums during the August vacation. The radical elite do not want any dissent on any matter, particularly the radicalization of American healthcare. Gabby is following her boss's orders to the letter, avoiding any and all public interaction in which there is the remotest possibility any citizen she allegedly represents could disagree with the radical elite agenda.

Gabby is not interested in hearing from any of the tens of thousands of CD8 constituents who disagree with ObamaCare. She only wants to hear from her radical supporters.

The local mainstream media is more than happy to accommodate her, granting her all the column inches she could want, while studiously avoiding any mention of any dissent in the district.

Sen. Melvin, who meets his constituents publicly and who allows all to speak their piece and listens even though he may disagree, is the vastly superior public servant over the cowardly "Representative" Gabrielle Giffords, hiding out from her constituents and avoiding any public contact whatsoever. Have a restful vacation, Gabby, wherever you are.

Rick Cunnington Oro Valley

RTA boss tells facts about utility moves

In response to Tom Sander's Aug. 26 letter to the editor, the RTA would like to respond with the facts.

The RTA ballot indicated project costs in 2006 constant dollars and sales-tax revenues were determined based on a study performed by economists from the University of Arizona.

The RTA is not the only entity affected by the economy. As revenues have declined, project costs also have declined. As history shows, economic swings come and go. Mr. Sander probably recognizes this in his personal budget. We all have to adjust as needed.

The RTA has an oversight committee to review the progress of the RTA plan implementation and to ensure that the RTA is following the requirements of the law. I can assure Mr. Sander that the RTA Board and staff are very cautious about reviewing project costs and revenues and are working to keep things in balance.

The costs of relocating waterlines which must be moved for a road project are paid for by the water utility, whether public or private, unless the water company has acquired an easement of right of way. Metro Water has been using the roadway right of way for its waterline facilities, at no expense to Metro customers, for decades. Now that it is time to finally begin improving our long suffering roadways, Metro is required to move its lines where they conflict with the new roads. This is simply the "cost of doing business" when using public roadways for free.  Tucson Water, Tucson Electric, Southwest Gas and other utilities occupying public roads are all treated the same way.

A recent court ruling supports this approach. On Aug. 27, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that Qwest (Qwest Corporation v. City of Chandler) must pay for the costs related to relocation of its lines in public rights-of-way. The court rejected all of Qwest's arguments on the phone company's position that it was not required to pay for such costs. The court essentially ruled in the public's interest.

We encourage the public to contact the RTA regarding any questions you have about our transparency. To date, we are delivering on our promises, and our results speak for themselves.

Gary Hayes, Executive Director Regional Transportation Authority

Health care system is not 'failing' us

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords recently penned an article discussing health care reform. Similar versions of this article appeared on her web site, as a press release, and as an article in the July 26, 2009 edition of the Arizona Daily Star.

Interestingly, she dredged up an article from 1932 that discussed the need for health care reform. Democrats have controlled the Congress for several decades since 193,2 so why haven't they been able to implement the "reforms" Rep. Giffords supports?

The answer is simple. In 1932 Americans did not have the same type of health insurance we have today; this system was established after WWII. The other part of the answer is that people are rightly fearful of government becoming powerful enough to dictate health care decisions. One need not look any further than Canada or Great Britain to see how government-run health care systems fail those who need the care the most. We don't need to look any further than the U.S. government to see a long list of programs that are failures due to cost overruns and mismanagement.

The main reason Rep. Giffords' article concerns me is that she used fear tactics to justify an unjustifiable position. Our health care system is not "failing us." More than 80 percent of the people are satisfied with their health insurance; this is hardly a characteristic of a failing system. If we are to believe the oft-reported claim that "14,000 Americans will lose their health insurance today" then pretty soon nobody will have health insurance at all.

There is no way that Americans can keep their current coverage while at the same time implementing a plan that will cover millions of new people, many of whom are in this country illegally, while containing costs. HR 3200 is full of loopholes, language that is open to interpretation, and authorization to involve government in our lives to such a degree that one day we will wake up and wonder how it happened. Now is our chance to prevent that day from happening.

Tom Carlson, Republican candidate for Arizona's 8th Congressional District

How might lights all night help OV businesses?

Blazing signage cannot turn around the economy.

Chamber of Congress boosters handed out stickers at the Aug. 19 council meeting that said "Dusk to Dawn." Catchy slogan, no? But what could it mean for Oro Valley?

Business owners told council that more lights at night would attract more customers -- even after their shops are closed. Proof was flimsy to non-existent that lights after hours could attract anything more than moths. A seasonal exception exists between Thanksgiving and New Years, but for the other 10 or 11 months, it simply seems a waste.

Residents claimed an interest in dark skies. One fellow whose home overlooks The Marketplace compared his night sky to a carnival as others have before him, but the scofflaw developer Vestar, a proven leader in how to push the envelope and get anything you want, will keep the upper hand as long as our laissez-faire-to-business mayor belittles or dismisses situations impinging on citizens' quality of life.

Scientists from all over the world study the universe at local observatories are consumers who bring in business to Southern Arizona. Do we want to send them away to another part of the world to ply their trade? The university, conducive weather conditions, and the clear dark skies of the Southwest are a priceless asset to star-gazers of all ages.

The last and least of desert life, the animals, depend on nighttime darkness. Their migration patterns, mating rituals, sleep habits and instincts for finding food depend on a dark environment.

The town staff and council will look at the lighting codes to see what should be changed. The town manager and staff need to know your feelings about darkness. Why does anyone need the lights on all night – or even until 10 p.m.?

For more on Dark Skies, go to www.darksky.org.

Kathy Pastryk, Oro Valley

Doesn't know his acetabulum from his incus

Rick Cunnington claims that, "Pelosi and Co.," have "zero rational, intellectual or otherwise thoughtful responses" to those questioning the "radicalization of U.S. healthcare" and that they "have only engaged in hateful name-calling in response."

This is an amusing comment coming from a man for whom hateful name-calling and irrational diatribe are a modus operandi.

In the past, he has asserted that the residents of New Orleans, wiped out after Hurricane Katrina, were "sitting on their porches with hands held out for a handout and a mouthful of gimme." He referred to illegal aliens as bringing only "poverty, despair and ignorance into the U.S." If you oppose irresponsible growth, he labels you "CAVE men and women." And he refers to the elderly as "geezers" whose opinions are "irrelevant."

Apparently, Cunnington sees nothing wrong with the health-care industry being run by profit-driven pharmaceutical companies, unaccountable insurance executives and Wall Street investors. He fails to understand that there is something inherently wrong with a system that places an insurance company in between the patient and the doctor who can actually help them. Health issues are time-sensitive and it is unconscionable to have to wait 2-3 weeks to obtain approval from your insurance company for a CAT scan.

In a recent interview, Emmy-winning journalist Bill Moyers summed it up succinctly with this remark: "Health care is a common human need to which everyone should have access regardless of their economic resources. We are the only Western democracy that has not embraced universal health care as a means of social justice."

I have seen the health insurance nightmare from the perspective of the patient and also as a 17-year veteran of the health care industry. As such, I can state without reservation, that when it comes to understanding the need for health care reform, Cunnington doesn't know his acetabulum from his incus.

Diane Peters, Oro Valley

Why are writers so angry with the Democrats?

The Explorer "opinions" lead us to believe more rich folks moved into town.

They show such zeal for the Republican efforts to stop Obama from returning their taxes to the 39 percent figure they were 10 years ago. They write threatening letters for Rep. Giffords to conduct town halls. Perhaps she delayed the halls to get more life insurance after a gun was dropped on the floor at her Douglas meeting.

Why are writers are so angry at the Democrats? Are they mad because Democrats raised the minimum wage, provided Social Security and Medicare for their aging parents? Is their ire about health care: a moral issue which transcends politics? Their opposition against health care is driven by corporations who want to profit at the expense of the sick. Health care historically was not-for-profit. Some profiteers now insure only the healthy wealthy.

Senator Kyl quoted his health experts, the Lewin Group, as saying that "over 100 million Americans would end up on government rolls." He didn't tell us that the Lewin Group was owned by United Healthcare*, whose President reportedly makes $104,000/hour. Lewin settled a suite brought by the AMA and New York state for $400,000 for fraudulent billing practices. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 11-12 million would go on a government option. Kyl has no health care plan that encompasses all citizens. Republicans attempt to kill all public Democratic programs, regardless of their popularity.

Senator DeMint says they want to bring down our President. According to speaker Gingrich, Republicans fabricate the biggest lies possible and circulate them into their nets and spinners. I suggest political activists conduct truth tests at web sites like snopes.com or factcheck.org. Do Republicans buy more guns and exhibit such fear because they scare each other just passing around their own propaganda? I would be scared too if I believed any of their lies. Democrats know the feeling of political defeat, too.

Regardless of party, we need to respect every American and work for the common good as our forefathers did to preserve our great country.

Benjamin Love, Oro Valley

At charters, no money where state mouth is

Dave Safier misses the underlying problem with Arizona charter schools when he criticizes their abuses and lax oversight and attributes their ills to the founding legislation which, he says, had only the goals of haste in creating charters and assurance they would not be over-regulated.

In fact there was a more fundamental (if largely hidden) conservative goal, and it was to use charters and, indeed, the idealized concept of school choice, as a stick in the eye of the educational establishment — especially teachers' unions. And then turn away from responsibility under the guise of the free market.

This is clearly revealed in the fact that, beyond creating charter schools, the legislature shows little interest in overseeing or, in fact, even meaningfully supporting them. I speak as a member of the board of Tucson's City High School. CHS is a charter which works — hard. It was founded by idealistic educators who aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves, and it fulfills the best of what good charter schools aspire to.

But among many challenges over the past five years, it has not only established itself educationally. It has resurrected the former Peterson's department store as its campus and raised and invested well over $1 million in renovations (and our principal does not make even a high five figure salary). Yet we struggle to maintain and continue progress in the face of minimal, per pupil state funding. No non-charter public school could do the same.

So I challenge the State of Arizona to put its (albeit hard-pressed) money where its ideologically loud mouth is. Step up and get behind charter schools with more than seed money to found them and righteous rhetoric to the public and non-charter public schools.

Jerry Farnsworth, Marana

Audience was stifled at HH health 'forum'

Dear editor,

This letter is in reference to the health reform forum hosted by Krysten Sinema, Phoenix assistant Democratic leader of District 15.

The press release in the Aug. 12 edition of The Explorer said the legislators are hearing residents' ideas about health reform. Tucson area Reps. Nancy Young Wright, D-26 and Pat Fleming, D-25, assisted Sinema at the forum. In the press release, Wright said, "I want to make sure I hear their ideas (residents at Heritage Highlands) about options for the best quality and affordable health care, especially in tough economic times like these." Pat Fleming said in the same press release, "It's incredibly important that as lawmakers, we hear ideas from the people we represent and make sure that their input is heard in Washington."

Sinema laid down the law to the seniors citizens: there will be no hand-raising, no asking questions, no clapping hands, or any noise from the audience, but, she did give us permission to go to the restroom. What? I couldn't believe what I was hearing. She was instructing us as if we were in the second grade.

How were these three representatives going to hear what we had to say, if they didn't allow us to speak? The definition of a forum is: a public meeting place for open discussion or debate, including audience participation.

Attendees in the audience were collecting forms that the audience filled out, supposedly to write questions or comments. The forms were delivered to Wright and Fleming, who were very busy deciding which questions they would give to Sinema to answer.

As I left the clubhouse, I thought, if this is the new democratic way a citizen can make a comment or express their feelings at a forum, this country was in deep trouble. I was terribly disappointed because I felt the forum was controlled and manipulated. The audience was stifled, and in my view, freedom of speech in the Heritage Highlands clubhouse went out the window.

Richard (Richy) D. Feinberg, Marana

Two ways the government can cut costs

Re: "A Tucson Doctor's Warning," by Donald L. Kwasman, D.O. The Explorer, Aug. 26

Sir, Dr. Kwasman claims that as a result of the HMO system introduced in Tucson and Minneapolis, he "witnessed some of Tucson's finest cardiologists, OB/GYN, … leave Tucson so that they could carry on private practice in freer markets." It is not clear from his article why the presence of an HMO would drive physicians out of Tucson.

I lived in Minneapolis from 1971 through 1999, and one of the options during those years was an HMO called "Group Health." My employer paid a certain amount toward health care premiums, and we could pick from a number of options. Besides Group Health there was a physicians organization, Physicians Health Plan, and Blue Cross - Blue Shield. I chose Group Health and found it entirely satisfactory; but a number of my colleagues chose one of the other options, including Blue Cross - Blue Shield, which was the most expensive.

The doctor laments the fact that those doctors who work for an HMO receive fixed salaries, or discounted fees "created by HMO bureaucrats." But one of the best, most cost effective health care providers in the country, the Mayo Clinic, operates according to just such a model.

In the past, quality health care at affordable costs has been provided by the private sector; but today health care costs are spiraling out of control, and thousands of families are being forced into bankruptcy. The private sector appears unable to correct the problem by itself; government involvement to correct the problem may be unavoidable.

There are two ways in which the government can bring down costs: by extensive regulation (read micromanagement), or by injecting competition into the equation via a public option. By far the more effective approach would be to increase competition, yet the private health care system is engaged in an all-out war to defeat the public option. What does that tell us?

David Sattinger, Oro Valley

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