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Letters to the Editors

Wrong approach to Medicare appeals

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 23, 2003

Re: Bush advances plan to curb Medicare appeals, March 16.

In more than 50 percent of the Medicare cases heard regarding denial of benefits, impartial, nonpolitically influenced judges have ruled that the claimants had been wrongly denied services. These are "frail elderly people with severe illnesses." This is a problem. Before you read further, think about where you think the problem is.

If you think as I do, it sounds as though too many people have been denied services to which they are entitled and that we need to look at that point in the process where the denial occurs. Why are so many people being put through the agony of fighting our government for services to which they are entitled? Furthermore, how many are too weak, sick or uninformed to protest? The system is broken and needs to be fixed.

Here's the Bush administration solution: Change the system to allow politically influenced appointees to make the decisions so more services can be denied. In other words: If you don't like the message, kill the messenger. If impartiality doesn't provide the result you want, politicize it.

Please don't allow the war in Iraq to distract you from following what's happening domestically. Call your elected representatives and let them know what you think about this.
-- Ellen Levett, St. Petersburg

Stop denying claims

Re: Bush advances plan to curb Medicare appeals.

This is a "no-brainer." They just need to stop arbitrarily denying payment. I have had two claims denied. Neither denial was justified. One, for an ambulance trip to an emergency room, I challenged. I was told that Medicare was denying all claims. I could have been ignorant enough to pay it (which I'm sure a lot of people would do) or not challenge it, because I didn't know how to do that.

The other denial was for surgery related to a malignancy. Whoever denied payment may have just been medically ignorant, but, if so, had no business holding a job that required some medical knowledge.

The bottom line is just to stop denying just claims upfront. Then there would be no need to have an appeal.
-- Shirley M. Day, St. Petersburg

No compassion

Re: Bush advances plan to curb Medicare appeals, March 16.

The Bush administration ran on the slogan of "compassionate conservatism." So who is this administration being compassionate toward? Certainly not the poor, the sick, the weak, the disabled or children. And now this administration is trying to limit help for old people on Medicare. I haven't seen any compassion except toward the rich and well-off.

As for conservatism, it is defined as the tendency to preserve established traditions and institutions. So why do we see the Bush administration chipping away at the Bill of Rights, our most hallowed institution? Freedom of speech and the press are being suppressed, the wall of separation between church and state is being knocked down, and on and on. Is it possible that Bush didn't understand these two big C words?
-- Lucy Fuchs, Brandon

A reckless report

Re: Local ties to Islamic school are intricate, March 16.

The unjustified attack on the integrity of the Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF) by your paper and reporter was not only shameful but also reckless.

The accomplishments of IAF speak for themselves. For more than a decade, IAF has been providing quality education for hundreds of students in the Tampa Bay Area. It provides an environment that is drug free, gun free, violence free, sex free and safe. The majority of our teachers and administrators have earned their credentials, i.e. bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees from prestigious accredited American universities, and more than three-quarters of our graduates have either gone to elite schools such as Duke and Georgetown, or have joined the honors program at the University of South Florida.

We are proud of the inspirational role of Dr. Sami Al-Arian in founding and nurturing the school. Any suggestion or insinuation by the government or the media that IAF was ever involved in fundraising on behalf of any political cause or violent group is not just utterly false but intentionally evil. IAF has never raised a single penny except for its educational mission.

The use of an anti-Muslim as a source in your article only demonstrates the bias and ignorance of your reporter. Incidentally, your reporter did not even do the basic work of checking his "facts." While the mosque of Islamic Community of Tampa Bay is registered with the North America of Islamic Trust, IAF is an independent entity, and is not affiliated with the trust.

Having gone through the scare of planned bombing campaigns against Islamic institutions in Florida by Robert Goldstein last summer makes us wonder if your reckless article might inspire other Goldsteins. In such a case, you shall bear the responsibility for any adverse consequences of your article.
-- A. Hamad, IAF board chairman, and A. Biuk, IAF principal, Tampa

Making terrorists smile

Re: Security profiling snares Republican woman, age 60, March 16.

While Times columnist Robyn Blumner stays busy keeping those pesky U.S. government profilers (the Transportation Security Administration) at bay, the rest of us can focus our efforts on trying to keep the real enemy from terrorizing the patrons of her local shopping mall.

I have no doubt that after reading many of Blumner's columns, there's a big smile on the face of every al-Qaida operative living in the Tampa Bay area.
-- Tom Berlinger, Tallahassee

Big Brother at work

Re: Preflight profiling.

The U.S. government is beginning to look into every aspect of the lives of airline travelers as it begins preflight profiling of every passenger, including American citizens. The multimillion dollar secretive profiling software, called CAPPSII, will prescreen all passengers sometime prior to boarding.

Once a traveler's information has been accessed, it will be run through the secret CAPPSII program. Each passenger's profile will be determined based on numbers, names and categories entered, and the program will pop out the flier's profile and color categorization -- green, yellow or red. This information will determine whether the traveler can fly, fly with careful scrutiny or be refused boarding.

This brings up certain questions for concerned American citizens. Will travelers with red categorization or "Reds" be detained? Will they retain their Miranda and/or their constitutional rights? Will they be allowed counsel prior to interrogation? Will they be held without arraignment? Will "Yellows" just be watched while flying or will the observation continue throughout their trip? Will they be watched upon returning home? Since these color codes are a part of "terrorist profiling," will judicial approval still be required prior to the bugging of homes or can these now be done based on which "color label" the flier receives? Will there be any redress for someone once they have been labeled? To whom can U.S. citizens appeal if labeled incorrectly? Will there be any due process?

As the ominous realization dawns on the American public that George Orwell's predictions of "Big Brother" in his classic book 1984 were only off by 20 years, how many Americans will submit to being profiled and "color coded"? Will calls for a boycott of air travel begin? If so, would the airlines be able to survive? What effect will this have on the nation's travel industry with the cost of driving spiraling out of control? Will this be yet another assault upon an already crippled economy?
-- Les Cole, Madeira Beach

An inappropriate comment

Re: Bubba gone wild, letter, March 9.

I am 13 years old and I recently read this letter. The fact is it was harsh and inappropriate. I understand the letter writer's opinion matters to him, but I feel he should not send that opinion out for the world to see and embarrass these gentlemen.

It just so happens I personally know these men and I look past their weight and enjoy their personalities. There are no weight requirements for the Sheriff's Office, but they must pass a physical every year, and they passed with flying colors. They would not be working at the Citrus County Sheriff's Office if they did not pass this physical. These gentlemen work very hard and save lives every day, and they deserve respect. Like I said, I am only 13 years old, but if your opinion matters so does mine.
-- Megan Anne Edwards, Citrus Springs

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