November Letter of the Month
The winning letter addressed the unresponsiveness of elected officials.
Representatives aren't listening
For whom do our legislators work? I ask because my Florida senator doesn't appear to work for me. I drove 27 miles on Nov. 3 to talk to the Hillsborough County legislative delegation for three minutes about commonsense gun laws. My senator never once looked at me during that three minutes.
On Nov. 8, about 30 people took a bus 240 miles to Tallahassee to meet with our legislators for the same purpose. My state senator's aide informed us that our senator would not be available to meet with us until March.
Surveys show that the majority of Floridians want criminal background checks. My senator doesn't. Polls show the majority of Floridians do not want open carry. My senator does. University officials, campus security and professors oppose campus carry.
Are our legislators supposed to represent us? Are our legislators supposed to be responsive to the taxpayers? How do we get our voices heard before the next legislative session and not in March?
Elizabeth Corwin, Tampa
Reform transplant policies
I was diagnosed with leukemia over 26 years ago and have received two bone marrow transplants to survive. After my first transplant, I was inspired to become a nurse with a life's mission: helping others facing similar life-threatening diagnoses find their paths to recovery.
In Medicare, the transplant payment polices for bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cell and cord blood transplants for patients diagnosed with blood cancers and other life-threatening blood disorders are often misunderstood and underfunded.
The process can cost much more than Medicare's reimbursement, leaving hospitals with two options: absorb the extra costs, up to tens of thousands of dollars, or deny Medicare patients treatment. Current Medicare payment policies not only hurt access, they put lives at risk.
Now, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, and three co-sponsors have introduced the Protect Access to Cellular Transplant Act (HR 4215) to update Medicare's stem cell transplant payment policy.
If implemented, bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cell and cord blood transplants would parallel solid organ transplant. Currently, solid organ acquisition costs are reimbursed on a reasonable cost basis, which allows for a separate payment for the actual transplant and its related care. This policy would allow hospitals across the country to continue offering transplant as a treatment option for Medicare patients without excessive financial burdens. These types of transplants have already saved 2,536 Floridians; imagine how many more could be saved if this bill were made into law.
Becky Dame, Plant City
The writer is a bone marrow transplant recipient and a nationally certified transplant nurse.
Strong responses needed
I came of age in the early 1970s, a time when women were making their voices known on matters of respect and other important social issues. They marched and let their voices be heard.
Lately, a whole crop of sexual harassment claims have made the headlines, all pleading for "justice." Sexual harassment is not a new topic; just look to history. What's different today is that a woman can stand up and speak up in her own defense, and should do so, without whining!
For instance: No. 1: "I'm sorry, could you repeat what you said so the whole office can hear you?" No. 2: "Let's you and I take a walk down to HR so you can repeat what you said." Or No. 3, "Your personal touch is not welcome or wanted. Touch me again and you'll have to learn to eat with hooks!"
Debi Ford, St. Petersburg
Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3
Early Christmas for rich
The Senate has sent an early Christmas present to the 1 percent. Corporations will receive 71.6 percent of the $1.4 trillion tax cut. Corporate profits and cash reserves will balloon, justifying larger bonuses. Companies will buy back more stock, increasing their dividends and swelling their estates, more of which can be passed forward with no tax. For the 99 percent, our children and grandchildren will be burdened with an unsustainable federal debt, jeopardizing their future security.
Tom Cummings, Sun City Center
Corporate, not public, push
Ever wonder who asked for a complete overhaul of our tax system? Was there an outcry by the middle class demanding lower tax rates for large corporations and wealthy Americans? Did we wake up one morning and decide it's time to eliminate the estate tax, which benefits about 0.2 percent of the richest Americans? Does it matter that 36 million middle class and working families will experience a tax increase under the House plan?
Let's be honest about the attempt to reform the nation's tax code. It's being pushed by big banks, large corporations, Wall Street and the richest Americans who benefit the most. And, never mind that it adds $1.4 trillion to our nation's deficit.
Anthony Edl, Odessa
Racing good for state, dogs | Nov. 30, letter
End to racing long overdue
Many years ago as a reporter for the Tampa Tribune, I covered a gruesome story: The bodies of several greyhounds had been dumped at a slaughterhouse near Balm. It was unclear how the dogs were killed, but what was apparent was that whoever dumped them no longer found them useful.
As that incident reveals, many racing greyhound owners care only about money. Note the letter's comments: "All athletes, human or animal, can get injuries and even die" and "greyhound owners do not get paid unless the greyhound comes in first, second, third or fourth in a race."
Greyhounds are neither athletes nor earners; they are domestic pets and should be treated as such, and the bill proposed by state Sen. Tom Lee to end greyhound racing in Florida is long overdue.
Deborah Van Pelt, Tampa