Preserve Medicare home health program
The Oct. 9 story on differing language in congressional health care bills ("What about long-term care?") was a good reminder to South Carolinians that they must look carefully at how health legislation could affect them.
For example, Congress plans to cut up to $57 billion from Medicare home health programs over the next decade, including $700 million in South Carolina. As a result, more than 70 percent of our state's home health agencies could report negative financial margins as early as 2011.
Many agencies might close or limit services, even as our elderly population continues to grow. One in eight of our citizens is already age 65 or older. The Census Bureau estimates the number of South Carolinians in this age group will rise by more than 133 percent between 2000 and 2030.
Even more ironic, many South Carolina home health providers use advanced therapies and treatments to help the elderly manage chronic illnesses effectively. Studies have shown the ability of home health to keep people out of costly hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions, and save Medicare millions of dollars.
I urge South Carolinians to contact Rep. Joe Wilson and Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham to let them know that Medicare home health must be preserved.
Climate control bill needs push
Because our focus for the past several months has been on health care reform and the situation in Afghanistan, we have taken our eyes off climate control legislation. The House has already passed a strong bill, and two or three weeks ago, an even stronger bill was introduced in the Senate.
These pieces of legislation are critical to our national security (oil), job creation and above all to the preservation of our life together on this planet.
It is extremely important to get a Senate bill passed before the Christmas break, although a final House-Senate bill will have to wait till early 2010. The reason is that the U.N. Climate Conference will be held in December in Copenhagen. The goal of this conference is to bring forth binding pledges from nations around the world setting realistic targets to cut back on pollution emissions in their countries.
At the last conference on climate change, held several years ago in Kyoto, Japan, the United States walked away from the table, and there was no common agreement.
Our leadership is essential. If other nations do not see us moving in a serious way to cut our own emissions, they will not follow, because we (and China) are the world's largest polluters.
We must urge our Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint to support and push the Senate bill, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.
ROBERT J. WILDE
Diaper choices and the environment
The mothers who put together the diaper drive on Oct. 17 are to be commended for seeing a need of the less fortunate mothers and stepping up to do something. This drive stresses the use of disposable diapers, but perhaps a better choice would be to ask for cloth diaper donations.
Cloth diapers do cost more initially, but the cost is a one-time thing. In addition, cloth diapers do not end up in the landfill sitting for many, many years before they disintegrate. Yes, the diapers must be washed and properly rinsed, but this isn't an insurmountable problem.
When our family was young I had three children in cloth diapers, all at the same time. We had very little money and did not have a washer. I washed the diapers by hand and rinsed them several times before hanging them to dry. There were no more problems with rashes than people have with disposable diapers.
Perhaps mothers of all economic levels should be encouraged to think of the environment and switch to cloth.
Being thrifty is not offensive
Regarding the Oct. 21 story "Apologies follow gaffe," being offended has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime and can be likened to a child having a tantrum to get its own way.
I am amazed that Sen. Joel Lourie would sink to such underhanded tricks for political gain. When I shopped in this family's business, I had the complete confidence, and was never disappointed, in the quality of the product I purchased at a fair price. In order to accomplish that, it was necessary to have the understanding of and the discipline to handle money wisely.
Surely Sen. Lourie has the background and pride in the accomplishments of his ancestors to be proud instead of "offended" by their reputation for thriftiness.
I have some very special friends of his faith whom I'm sure would accept the precept of frugality as a compliment.
I hope that he will take to heart the philosophy of my greatest hero, who just happens to be Jewish. He teaches, if you are honestly offended, to "turn the other cheek."
Sen. Graham sets standard for GOP
On a different matter, Sen. Lindsey Graham seems to be setting a national standard for constructive behavior by a Republican - admittedly not a very hard task, but still encouraging.
Think of the pride it would bring to South Carolina - sorely needed given Rep. Joe Wilson and Gov. Mark Sanford - if Graham would vote for the "public option." Bipartisanship would cease to be merely a word.
LESTER C. WELCH
Afghanistan airfield's S.C. connection
Kudos for the excellent article on the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on Tuesday. It was full of facts and information. Who would have thought that 11 times a day transport planes leave Charleston for Afghanistan?
And the photograph of our GIs at the Burger King was worth, as they say, a thousand words.
I will send the article to a friend in North Carolina who will send it to his friend stationed in Kabul.
Thanks again to Chuck Crumbo for all his research.
CAROL P. COOKE