Letters To The Editor 8/28/2018
End surprise billing
Editor: The editorial “State must intervene for patients” (Aug. 14) gets the root cause of the issue right — health insurers have engaged in a troubling practice of narrowing their networks of covered physicians and specialists.
Insurance companies increasingly offer narrow networks to enhance their bottom lines, but they create surprise insurance gaps for patients. Physicians oppose this practice and think patients deserve better coverage, better access to care and better consumer protections. For example, 73 percent of exchange health plans have restrictive networks now, up 25 percent from 2014. These types of plans make Pennsylvanians more likely to receive surprise bills because their plans cover fewer providers and services than they thought.
Insurance companies cover fewer providers even while they shift more costs to patients through higher premiums and deductibles, so Pennsylvania patients pay more for less. These gaps become clear in emergencies because patients can’t control the time, place or providers needed; doctors don’t — and shouldn’t — consider insurance status; and emergency medical services protocols require taking patients to the nearest appropriate facility regardless of network status.
To address this, Pennsylvania should enact comprehensive legislation that takes patients out of the middle of billing disputes, increases transparency, expands physician networks and requires insurers to cover unexpected, out-of-network care dealing directly with providers at fair, market-based rates. Unlike the bills pending in the Legislature or the editorial’s proposal, under this approach, patients could be sure they are covered when they can’t control which provider renders service, particularly in emergencies when they need care the most. Laws in New York and Connecticut have used this system to end surprise bills while enhancing access to care for patients.
Fortunately, thoughtful legislators, like Rep. Tina Pickett, of Bradford County, understand and are working toward this solution.
DONALD MARTIN, M.D.
PENNSYLVANIA SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS,
Too blind to see
Editor: There are none so blind as those who will not see. I am constantly amazed at those who cannot or will not add up the deplorable actions of a man who pretends to act presidential.
The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what is blatantly evidenced in the Trump presidency. It is a danger to our precious democracy. From the beginning of his presidency, President Trump began to systematically chip away at our democratic ideals. Using executive orders, he relaxed air and water pollution safeguards. Now he and his redesigned Environmental Protection Agency hope to reverse an Obama-era carbon emissions ruling. There were exits from the Paris accord and the Iran nuclear agreement.
Trump has fomented racial division, legitimized misogyny and made bullying more acceptable. Anyone criticizing this president can expect retaliation, as former CIA Director John Brennan knows. Could this be a misuse of executive power? Trump’s adoration of Russian President Vladimir Putin should alarm us all. Putin and his henchmen continue to undermine our democratic processes but Trump thinks he’s a great friend. Putin is a true enemy of the people of the United States.
Do people wonder what information he holds on Trump? He was an officer in communist Russia’s KGB. Do you think he can outsmart Trump? What bothers me the most are the lies that Trump spews daily that are gobbled up by his Fox News followers. Never would they think to question his “facts.” When will Republican congressmen have enough guts to hold him accountable for his lies?
Editor: I join President Trump in not believing what our intelligence services have to say on Russian interference and collusion involving the 2016 election.
I base my belief on public statements made by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, both of whom have become the darlings of CNN. Some of what they have blustered about on CNN and in their venomous tweets is seditious and way beyond what any former holders of those offices should say in public.
They are part of the “deep state” like FBI Director James Comey, former Assistant Director Andrew McCabe, ex-FBI investigator Peter Stroczk and other hierarchy of the FBI, who were a cabal that thought they could orchestrate the election of Hillary Clinton. American voters are smarter than the deep state gives them credit for.
JOHN P. KAMEEN
Editor: President Trump has a 40 percent approval rating, even though he lies frequently, criticizes our allies, admires Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jung Un, wants tariffs, raises the deficit, pulls out of beneficial trade pacts and says that the investigation into Russian interference in our elections is a hoax.
There are many different reasons why his supporters
ignore these negatives, but possibly the main reason is his charismatic appeal. If more of his supporters had critical thinking skills and made themselves open
to actual facts reported in the news media, that number would drop to about 10 percent. Sadly, many of them believe him when he says that CNN is “fake news.” CNN has a high rating for reporting the facts, but, unfortunately, Trump’s definition of fake news is anything critical of him.
Many of his supporters feel he’s doing a good job because our economy is doing well. The stock market goes up when earnings increase. Trump’s tax scam lowered the corporate tax rate but did not close loopholes, so naturally the market will go up at the expense of our federal deficit. He is also removing regulations that protect our environment. This will also increase earnings at the expense of the health of our children and grandchildren.
Instead of being conservative, most Republicans in Congress have become Trumpicans. Instead of retraining individuals for jobs for the present and future, Trump wants to keep them in the coal mines and the steel industry. That would be like Teddy Roosevelt trying to keep workers in the horse carriage industry, instead of training them for the auto or airplane industries.
Trump is interested in appealing to his base more than doing what’s best for America. If he wants to make America great again, he should resign.