Letters to the editor: Feb. 20

February 20, 2013 

Amgen 'favor' ensures continuity for dialysis patients

I'd like to offer some factual clarity to the Jan. 30 editorial, "Pill-maker's favor hard to swallow; Can't save Medicare by gouging it."

The editorial mischaracterizes a provision of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which temporarily delays inclusion of oral-only drugs in the Medicare payment bundle for dialysis services due to major changes in how Medicare pays for dialysis care.

Amgen fully supports the notion that Americans benefit from "policies based on clinical research and accountability," and the truth of the matter is that this action ensures vulnerable dialysis patients continue to receive medicines they need.

This provision allows end-stage renal dialysis patients to continue receiving needed medications from pharmacies, just like Medicare patients do with most prescriptions. These patients are among our nation's most chronically ill and are disproportionately minority and elderly. Patients will be prescribed these therapies by physicians, just as they are today.

Several companies manufacture these oral treatments. This provision also reflects recommendations of an independent U.S. Government Accountability Office report cautioning against prematurely including oral-only medications in the dialysis bundled payment system.

Amgen will continue to advocate for sound federal policies that enhance access to care, with our mission to serve patients leading the way.

Ray Jordan

Senior vice president corporate affairs, Amgen

Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Not feeling so safe

In reading that guns may now be allowed at zoos, libraries, public offices, etc., it is hard for me to believe we have come to this. We don't allow smoking in public places for health reasons, which is wonderful, So why should we allow guns?

I do not want to take my grandchildren to the zoo or library and be confronted with a person wearing a gun. How do we know if it was legally obtained or if the person has a history of mental illness? Are they going to be met at the door by someone who will do that checking?

Do people really think they look macho strapping on a gun? In truth, they look dumb and insecure. Nobody should be carrying a weapon if they are not a member of law enforcement. If you really need a gun to protect your home, please do us all a favor and keep it at home so you don't frighten the rest of us.

Margie Aker


Boost manufacturing

Recently at the 24th Annual Economic Outlook Conference, sponsored by the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics, the discussion concluded with an update on the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement.

This is an initiative where essentially the communities of Lexington and Louisville combine "to develop a joint regional business plan supporting the growth of high-quality jobs in advanced manufacturing."

The region between the two cities is included and the possibility of getting a new car plant would certainly be advantageous to Kentucky.

We already have a large amount of the highway infrastructure, and a plant in Shelby or Franklin counties would bring thousands of high-paying jobs throughout the state. The 100-plus support companies would be spread across Kentucky, thus lifting many localities economically.

Louisville's Mayor Greg Fischer mentioned that the cost of coal operations leading to increased electricity costs was acting as a negative on the state's balance sheet as we seek to attract companies. He wondered aloud what could offset that imbalance.

If Kentucky were to become a right-to-work state, that would not only offset the increase in electricity costs but be a net positive, making the state far more competitive. If a state like Michigan recognizes the benefits of becoming a right-to-work state, then we would be foolish not to become at least as attractive.

We were, thanks to the leadership of Gov. Martha Layne Collins, the first state in which Toyota built a car plant, and look at the economic impact that's had for generations.

Bill Marshall


Hoarder story offends

The Feb. 5 story "Trash from 'hoarder situation' lines sidewalk" was offensive, as opposed to informative.

While it is a newspaper's job, or journalism's in general, to inform the public of occurrences in the community that may draw questioning, it is unethical to do so by criticizing a woman's actions based on the opinions of her ex-husband with whom she no longer has contact.

"The house 'smelled like the inside of a lion's den,'" the article stated quoting the homeowner's ex-husband. This was unnecessary.

If the reporter wanted inside information on the homeowner's foreclosure, contact the homeowner, not her husband, who the article stated, "did not keep in touch with his ex-wife and didn't know how to reach her."

At this point, the opinions of the ex-husband should have been left out of the article due to their biased nature.

I take great pride in our esteemed community. This article poorly reflects our community by condemning a woman through speculation on her foreclosure in a time of economic instability.

Although I do agree with the informational and observational portions of the article, the information provided by the ex-husband crossed the line of ethical journalism.

James Soper

Mount Sterling

Hail to popular music

In a Feb 1 Burgoo item, syndicated columnist Mona Charen derided President Barack Obama's second inauguration as "pedestrian" because Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé were chosen to participate.

She calls pop music "ordinary," worthy of elevators and shopping malls, but not "august" enough for a presidential inauguration. She seems to forget that the word "pop" is short for the word "popular," derived from the Latin populis and generally defined as "well-liked and admired by the people."

More than 65 million Americans liked and admired the president well enough to vote for him in 2012. Presumably the majority of people standing in the cold during this term's inauguration shared those sentiments and enjoyed the musical selections.

Classical music, Charen concedes, is "not always accessible." Its incorporation in Obama's first inauguration lent the event "certain majesty," she writes.

According to one etymology dictionary, the word "majesty" descends from the Roman Empire and is often used as a title in reference to kings and queens.

We address our leader as "Mr. President," not as "your majesty." The incorporation of pop music into an inauguration recognizes the American people as ordinary (as in mainstream public) citizens, not as a monarch's royal subjects or aristocratic elitists.

I may prefer Chopin as elevator music, but I don't expect others to share my tastes. When our next president is sworn in, I hope the ceremonies will include performances by both classical and popular artists. After all, the event is an inauguration, not a coronation.

John Shotwell


Romney's muscial fare

Mona Charen's column on President Barack Obama's choice of Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Clarkson as the headliners for his inauguration made me wonder who might have gotten the nod if Mitt Romney had won?

Ted Nugent and Meatloaf?

Anna Wientjes


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