Obama's plan reduces deficit responsibly
President Barack Obama showed responsible strength as he outlined a deficit reduction plan cutting our nation's debt by at least $4 trillion over the next 12 years.
Unlike the Republican plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, Obama's plan would preserve Medicare rather than fundamentally alter it and throw seniors and disabled people on the mercy of insurance companies by offering vouchers that may not cover the cost of premiums.
The president's plan also calls for a shared sacrifice in the efforts to reduce the deficit.
Whereas the Republican plan would reduce the deficit squarely on the backs of the middle class and poor through changes in Medicare, Medicaid and other social safety-net programs, Obama's proposal calls for letting the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire and eliminating tax expenditures and loopholes that cost the government over $1 trillion.
Not surprisingly, Republicans immediately decried any tax increases. It's hypocrisy that the party most insistent on reducing the deficit is the same party most adamant against raising taxes.
When Republicans preach against tax increases, they use the same tired rhetoric that higher taxes will hurt job creation. Republican experiments in keeping taxes low for businesses and the wealthy over the past 25 years have proven this to be fallacy. America's most recent period of greatest prosperity occurred under the Clinton administration when taxes were raised and millions of jobs were created, resulting in a balanced budget.
Don't be misled by Republicans' false theories about taxation.
Emery W. Caywood
Review medical billing
Regarding Dr. Jeffrey Tuttle's commentary about Humana making it very difficult to obtain mental health care ("Struggling to get mental health care: State insurer sets too many hurdles," April 18), I want to emphasize that all individuals who need this care should be able to negotiate their insurance company rules and regulations and obtain the appropriate medical care with the least amount of time and money expended by the patient.
However, psychiatric services are not the only medical services that require review.
Case in point: Tuttle indicates that, for a $160 psychiatric office visit, the Humana rate is $69. I looked at a recent statement from my insurance company (not Humana) and found that, for a routine non-psychiatric $130 office visit, my insurance company would pay $47. So, there is not much difference, even if psychiatric services are not involved.
I cannot address the co-pays, but the bottom line is that all insurance companies negotiate downward from the Healthcare Blue Book rate for all medical specialties, and my example above was for a specialist.
Little do they know
Anyone wanting to teach history in high school or college must pursue a relevant course of study and obtain certification. Likewise, to teach economics, political science or sociology, you must get a hard-earned degree.
None of this is expected or required of the elected legislators and executives who make economic, political and social policies. A vice president who can't shoot straight can start a war, but the nurse who gives him a shot must pass years of training.
So, the history our history teachers teach is made by folks who may not know much history, which may be why the same mistakes keep getting made. Nor do we ask that they know much of anything else except how to amass lots of money, either on their own or as agents of groups who have mountains of it.
But we don't really have a right to complain. A scholar may or may not be any good at running a country, but any political candidate who is an honest scholar or has only an honest dollar doesn't have a chance.
Challenge status quo
With the Kentucky gubernatorial primary quickly approaching, Republicans need a candidate from outside the political establishment who will challenge the status quo. That candidate is Phil Moffett.
Moffett is a private businessman from Louisville who understands the challenges of today's businesses and what it is like to make tough budget cuts. I have heard all of the Republican primary candidates speak. What stands out about Moffett are his specific ideas on improving public education, reforming our current tax code and reducing the size of state government.
Moffett is the only Tea Party movement-endorsed candidate in the primary. Having the Tea Party support and momentum behind him will be vital in the general election against Gov. Steve Beshear, who seems to do a better job fund-raising for his campaign than closing the state's budget gap.
Ronald Reagan once said, "There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right."
This is a crucial time for our commonwealth. Kentucky was recently ranked by 24/7 Wall St., a financial news service and Web site, as the "worst-run state in America."
We need a leader willing to make difficult decisions that will bring Kentucky to a place of prominence and stability.
I urge all registered Republicans to cast your vote for Moffett on May 17.
An April 17 article reported about an increase in unpaid patient bills at University of Kentucky HealthCare. The way hospitals create and handle bad debts is an excellent example of how they manipulate the system and help drive up health care costs.
The amounts billed by hospitals are shamefully higher than the amounts paid by Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies. Medicare and Medicaid mandate a specific allowed payment, and insurance companies negotiate fee schedules with the hospitals.
Who does that leave to deal with the hospitals' exceedingly high charges? The answer, of course, is the uninsured population. These are people who cannot afford insurance, so it is reasonable that they will not be able to pay their entire hospital bill.
One might wonder why hospitals continue to issue such highly inflated bills when they know many payers are only required to pay a much lower rate, and others will only be able to pay a small part or perhaps even none of the bill.
The answer seems to be provided in a statement from the American Hospital Association, which indicates that bad debts eventually get covered by increasing payments from private insurance.
That translates to higher insurance premiums and additional expenses for those of us who are lucky enough to be able to afford health insurance.
True health care reform should put a stop to this nonsense and mandate government regulation of the amounts hospitals are allowed to charge regardless of who is paying the bill.
Jimmy D. Helton