- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Agenda-driven environmentalism

Regarding “Science vs. politics” (Commentary, Sunday), Jay Ambrose points out the troubling coupling of politics and scientific theory, lending credence to the fear that it is agenda-driven. I find the counterarguments to the left-thinking scientists compelling. I would like to remind those wondering if global warming is just the latest pet theory of the media that it is reminiscent of a blast from the past. Does anyone remember acid rain? I surely do. For 15 years, avalanches of stories in all forms of the media ominously detailed the ravages of this phenomenon and the source of it: all those evil smoke-belching factories and power plants. Of course, sanctimonious lecturing to the great unwashed masses followed about our greed and the depleting effect on the world’s resources. Then, suddenly and forevermore, the acid-rain saga vanished as if it never had occurred. Alas, its bigger and more attractive sister pushed it off of the media science spin cycle.

EDWARD T. RUTKOWSKI

Nottingham, Md.

Open-borders smear tactics

Linda Chavez has anticipated the next move by open-borders advocates by smearing those who want to preserve our national sovereignty as population-control enviro-zealots who are out of step with mainstream conservatives. (“Focusing the debate,” Commentary, Sunday).

This certainly would suit presidential wannabe Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, who has signed on with enthusiasm to the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill.

However, as the Republican senator from Texas, John Cornyn, observed, the McCain-Kennedy bill may result in as many as 30 million people being added to our population in just the next 10 years. Perhaps those 30 million newcomers would like to take up residence in Mr. Brownback’s state, because it has so much available space. More than likely, however, they’ll head for places already under strain from population growth, such as metropolitan Washington. Though it may be expected that exponents of slower population growth also would favor tighter immigration controls, the impact of masses of impoverished immigrants on schools, hospitals and the overall quality of life is quite obvious to the rest of us. This is the true “focus” of the debate.

ROBERT BERRY

Montgomery Village

Red tape and health care

Donald Devine’s Monday Commentary column, “No charity allowed,” is very true of governmental regulations. They have dramatically overburdened our national medical-care system with administrative requirements that serve no useful purpose other than increasing the cost of that care. We can blame Congress for this mess.

It doesn’t just affect private practice; it also increases the cost of medical care for our military families who do not use government facilities but are authorized to use private hospitals and clinics because of their location or the availability of care where they are posted.

Twenty-three years ago, I found out why the system was broken then and why it is broken today. There was no flexibility in the early ‘80s to waive, modify or use common sense when dealing with governmental contracts and regulations. I hope that has changed.

For example, 23 years ago, when my wife was pregnant with our second child, we were transferred during her second trimester from the Pentagon to Jacksonville, Fla. During her prenatal checkups at a local hospital, we were required to fill out CHAMPUS (now called TRICARE) forms after being authorized to use local facilities.

The federal government required this documentation for the facilities to be reimbursed for their services. Only after inquiry did I realize that the private doctor/hospital in Florida would be reimbursed for the entire nine-month prenatal care and delivery — not the remaining 4-and-a-half months until birth — even though we had used an Army hospital in Virginia.

Imagine if there had been no availability in the Army hospital and CHAMPUS had allowed us to use a private facility; would both hospitals have been granted contractually the full amount for nine months prenatal care and delivery? I suspect so.

In other words, the American taxpayers, including me, paid for more than 13 months of prenatal care because those were the contractual rules at the time. If a private business were to collect full payment upfront for part-time service without the flexibility to waive arcane rules, that would be called fraud by the state’s attorney’s office.

No wonder our health-care system is a mess.

RAY WIKSTROM

Jacksonville, Fla.

Donald Devine reports that the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change was “at a loss explaining the decline” in the proportion of U.S. physicians providing charity care — down from 76 percent of all physicians in 1996-97 to 68 percent in 2004-05. This simply is not the case.

The study clearly states that a number of factors — ranging from declining real physician incomes to stagnant public and private reimbursement rates to changes in how physicians organize their practices — are all likely drivers of the decline in charity care.

Mr. Devine also states, “The only reason the study shows so much charitable activity is that the physicians counted extra time spent at hospitals treating indigents as charity, which it really is not since treatment is required by law.”

Again, this is simply not the case. One need only look at the actual study to find that more than 70 percent of the physicians who provide charity care do so in their own practices, while about 14 percent report providing charity care while on call at a hospital emergency department.

Mr. Devine’s inaccurate portrayal of our study provided a springboard for him to speculate that more physicians are opting not to provide charity care for fear of being hauled off to jail for violating Medicare and Medicaid rules.

In the 10 years that we have studied physician charity care, neither physicians, policy-makers nor researchers have ever mentioned this issue as a reason why some physicians don’t provide charity care. Surely Mr. Devine doesn’t think this is true, or he must believe that the 68 percent of physicians who continue to provide charity care are scofflaws. In any event, these policies have not changed in the past 10 years, so it is extremely unlikely that they could be contributing to the decline.

ALWYN CASSIL

Director of public affairs

Center for Studying Health System Change

Washington

Pandering to illegals

The article “Immigration bill proposes in-state tuition for illegals” (Page 1, Monday) describes another erosion of our rights. I cannot imagine rewarding illegal aliens with in-state tuition while legal American citizens do not have the same right.

While the Senate debates immigration bills, it’s becoming apparent that it is a very confused group. The senators hastily throw amendment after amendment onto these bills, hoping to find something that will satisfy everyone. When you have a group of senators who can’t even agree on the definition of the word “amnesty,” there is not much hope that anything constructive will come from their meetings.

Instead of thinking about their own party, campaign funds and the elite class, one would hope they would think about the well-being of the people of this country, as they were elected to do.

They fail to understand that they were not elected to ruin the country by rewarding illegals with amnesties and their children with more rights than our own.

BOB ALLAN

Rochester Hills, Mich.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide