Updated: February 9, 2013 6:13AM
Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association, official arbiter of “good” government and advocate for openness and transparency, seems to have no hesitancy in advocating that the General Assembly use the votes of 35 unaccountable “lame ducks” to pass an attack on public employee pensions, while decrying the tactic when it was used for the tax increase. Anyone else see hypocrisy here?
John Murphy, Hyde Park
Why not good health care for all?
I am glad that Sen. Mark Kirk has made such a successful recovery from the devastating stroke he suffered a year ago, and even more thrilled that he will be “much more focused on Medicaid and what [his] fellow citizens face.” However, his experience highlights some of the flaws in our current health-care system, many of which are exacerbated by ObamaCare. First, there are multiple tiers of care in our health-care system, which may partly explain the observation that impoverished males have a life expectancy 14 years less than those of the upper socioeconomic strata; clearly, it’s hard to rise out of the lower class when one is constantly having to choose between putting food on the table or paying for health care. The ObamaCare solution is to require insurers to offer various levels of insurance that may only cover 60 percent of health care costs and carry ever-higher deductibles, thus shifting the costs of health care to the people who can least afford it and perpetuating our multitiered system.
Second, as noted by the Sun-Times on Jan. 2, Sen. Kirk “incurred major out-of-pocket expenses” even though he has, arguably, the best health care insurance in the country. This means that his Cadillac insurance still provides insufficient coverage. As he alludes to, Medicaid provides vastly inadequate support for stroke rehabilitation. Further, very few medical providers accept Medicaid patients for outpatient care. Part of the ObamaCare solution is to expand Medicaid eligibility to more people, while allowing states to opt out of administration of the Medicaid expansion. The end result is that more people will have Medicaid, and they will have to shoulder more out-of-pocket expenses, like Kirk.
Why not expand and improve the Medicare system and extend it to everyone? It could be paid for by redirecting the money that we already pay for private health insurance (which costs 10-fold more to administer than Medicare).
I hope that Sen. Kirk will consider this common-sense approach to health-care reform. I know that my patients and I would really appreciate it.
Philip A. Verhoef, M.D., Ph.D., Hyde Park
OK, let me see if I’ve got this right. In Chicago it is still illegal to light up a joint in the privacy of your own home, for two consenting adults to enter into a temporary sexual contract where money is exchanged behind closed doors, or for two persons of the same gender to enter into a loving and legally binding union of lifelong commitment. But it is, however, shortly to be legal to shove into your waistband as you enter a laundromat or a shopping mall, a piece of cold metal the sole purpose of which is to blow away another human being. God bless America. But not some of the bozos who run it.
Rob Hirsh, North Park
Ready to run for office
Roger Simon’s Saturday column would make even the most disingenuous politician proud. Simon complains of the defense budget, but fails to mention that even if there wasn’t a defense budget annual deficits would still be in excess of $600 billion a year. He fails to mention the declining trajectory of defense spending as a percentage total of federal spending over the past 50 years. He fails to mention the increasing trajectory of entitlement spending, which now comprises approximately 62 percent of the federal budget (compared to approximately 19 percent on national defense). Mr. Simon’s piece is short on facts and long on finger-pointing. He’s ready for political office!
James Jensen, Aurora
Don’t blame the NRA
Why does our justice system allow a man who killed his grandmother with a hammer out of prison to kill again? I’m sure he was not a NRA member, because it all started with a hammer not a gun. If you want to kill someone you don’t need a gun. You need to protect your own children instead of walking around blaming the NRA.
John A. Bonczek, Hegewisch
Law would make roads safer
Protecting the people who live and work in Illinois is our top priority. We are all safer when every driver on the road is trained, tested, licensed and insured. That’s why Senate Bill 957, a bill that allows unlicensed immigrant drivers to obtain Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses, is good public safety policy.
Unlicensed, uninsured drivers pose a serious risk to every driver and passenger on Illinois roadways. In our state alone, unlicensed and uninsured drivers are involved in thousands of accidents each year costing drivers millions of dollars in damage claims. In 2011, 42 percent of fatal crashes in Illinois involved an unlicensed driver.
Nationwide, unlicensed drivers are five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than licensed drivers.
We can do better — and save lives — by requiring all drivers to have licenses.
Other states like New Mexico and Washington that passed similar laws have seen the number of uninsured motorists, along with traffic accidents involving uninsured drivers, plummet. This law will require all drivers to learn the rules of the road.
When immigrants are licensed, our roads will be safer, our rates will be lower and our economy will be stronger. Let’s make it happen.
Jesse White, Illinois’ secretary of state
Hiram Grau, director, Illinois State Police