Letters to the Editor

ETC.: Health care, earmarks & more

Health care industry needs competition

I read with great interest the article "BlueCross BlueShield stands to lose in overhaul" on Sept. 27. Of particular interest to me was the number of people employed by the company, which at 9,000 distinguishes the scale and scope of its operations in South Carolina.

As a covered member, I was surprised to learn recently that a company this size outsources responsibility to another company to evaluate claims for diagnostic radiology procedures. I received a letter from this company stating it is refusing payment for a CT scan recently performed, a procedure suggested by a physician after examination.

The company also provided a cumbersome procedure to refute the decision. Is it not enough that a physician suggested the test? And how does third-party involvement reduce lead time and cost? This demonstrates a key driver of the current health care debate in Congress, and is a reason reform is needed.

With insurance coverage today, you may receive payment for services recommended by your physician only if you can maneuver through bureaucracy that delays the process. I look forward to reform that will bring additional competition to the marketplace.

SCOTT MARTINEZ

Columbia

Unhealthy side of health care changes

Is there anyone able to read who doesn't know that when our central federal government is given a task it is obliged to serve all equally?

Now consider those things that without question affect our health: how and when we brush our teeth, change our underwear, shower, sleep, eat, rest, exercise and choose our associates - all that and so much more.

Should anyone other than parents be given such authority to control how we do these things? Realize that the choice is yours to remain independent or become a totally dependent and controlled ward of a government that is tasked to serve all equally. A very unhealthy condition.

JIM LIVINGSTON

Newberry

System of earmarks open to corruption

I am outraged by the mentality that supports congressional earmarks: If we don't put in for government handouts, someone else is going to get our share.

The majority of earmarks go to representatives and senators who lead the Appropriations Committee - the so-called appropriators. They write the annual funding bills and reserve much of the earmark funding for the projects they support in their home states or projects supported by their campaign donors.

There is no honest assessment of how taxpayer funds could be used to best achieve our national goals. This system is dangerously open to corruption, and we have witnessed some of these appropriators sentenced on bribery and corruption charges.

In a column posted last week on thestate.com, state Rep. Bakari Sellers seems to think $34 million in funding for South Carolina is worth the country funneling $17 billion into this broken system in 2008 alone. If South Carolina can expect only one fifth of 1 percent, shouldn't our members of Congress be making reform their top priority?

Why should Sen. Jim DeMint compromise his fight to save the U.S. taxpayer from the wastefulness of congressional appropriators? If they refuse to turn Sen. DeMint's forgone earmarks into tax rebates or debt repayment, they should be the target of Rep. Sellers' ire, not Sen. DeMint.

BEN KINLAW

Barnwell

Wind energy could be way of S.C. future

Most people think the best place for wind farms is the plains states, but South Carolina could also generate massive amounts of wind energy by harnessing winds that flow off the coast. Why throw our money away on coal and foreign oil that dirty the environment when one of the purest forms of energy is at our fingertips? South Carolina should take the initiative to prove that it is serious about alternative energy. By harnessing wind energy, we would be able to create jobs and keep money home that would otherwise be spent on foreign oil. Wind energy, unlike other forms of energy, produces a great deal for a relatively small cost. Not only would it help our own economy, but it would help with sustainability.

Sustainability is the key to the future, and our state has one of the key elements right off of the coast. This may be a small step, but it is a step in the right direction. We should be actively promoting whatever we can do to make our future a brighter, better place, not just for ourselves but for generations to come.

LACY FEIGH

Clinton

Sanford's travel excuse doesn't fly

Regarding "Sanford transparency rule: Do as I preach, not as I say," Sept. 30, how much more ridiculous can Gov. Mark Sanford get than his excuse that "everybody else did it," concerning his state expenses for travel? A few years ago, when my children received a "No" answer to a request, their stock answer was "Everybody else is doing it." That answer didn't fly with me then, and it sure doesn't now.

Mr. Sanford is not only acting as a hypocrite concerning the transparency rule in government; he is also acting childishly.

Sure doesn't sound like a legitimate point to make in these, or any other, proceedings.

D.A. CRAIG

Columbia

State revenue agency has good record

The Thursday article "S.C. tax returns dead-end in office" states that dozens of unprocessed state tax returns were found stuffed in a drawer at the S.C. Department of Revenue. There was no mention of the thousands of various state tax returns that go through the facility each business week, including individual, sales, withholding and corporate tax returns.

I am one of the 125 employees in the processing office; he employee in question was being deceptive. The integrity of the Revenue Department may be somewhat tarnished, but I am confident that correction will be made and refunds of money will be expedited. This organization is made up of the most upright and hardworking group of people I have ever worked with. I had to write because I feel so strongly about the reputation of the Department of Revenue. It needs to be fought for.

JEAN E MILLER

West Columbia

Timing is bad for Obama trip

We have some of the most serious situations we have had in many years. Yet President Obama flew to Copenhagen, Denmark, at the expense of the taxpayers to meet with the committee to get the Olympics for Chicago in 2016. He says it would help our economy.

If he had succeeded, the city of Chicago should have been required to divide the profit from this with all 50 states, since the taxpayers financed his trip.

His time should have been spent working on getting extra troops to Afghanistan to win this war.

If George Bush had done this to help a city in Texas, impeachment proceedings would have already started, and rightly so.

BEN BUSBEE

Columbia

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