Exempt medical services from rail tax
to exempt medical services from the rail tax must be restored this session and passed for Hawaii's health care system to avoid more undue strain. The proposed legislation allows patients to pay their co-payments and insurance premiums and noncovered experimental cancer treatments instead of a transportation project. It also addresses the inequity of forcing neighbor island patients to come to Ho-nolulu for treatment and have to pay for Oahu's rail system.
SB11 HD1 recognizes that local insurance carriers do not cover general excise tax as a plan benefit, so that the burden is shifted to patients. It exempts only the county surcharge for rail from physician, osteopath and dentist services, hospital, nursing home or nursing facilities, and medical clinic charges, and rehabilitation services, not the entire GET on medical services.
Passing SB11 HD1 will sustain medical services by keeping $7 million a year ($105 million over 15 years) in health care. The state will also save money when patients are not pushed over the edge onto Medicaid or become uninsured.
Paul T. Morris, M.D.
Member, National Commission on Cancer,
American College of Surgeons
Past President and Current Board Member,
Hawaii Society of Clinical Oncology
HMSA rates don't add up for doctors, patients
I read with interest your headline article, "HMSA rates slammed,"
(Star-Bulletin, April 10). Thank you for your information about possible pending rate regulation because HMSA continues to claim that "93 cents of every dollar goes toward health care services."
I guess that leaves a net of 7 cents out of every dollar collected to pay the salaries and bonuses of its 10 top executives that averaged more than $700,000 per executive for 2006.
Perhaps, there is a need for rate regulation after all because with the total revenue generated during the past 10 years of $13.5 billion, patients are wondering why their rates keep going up and physicians like myself wonder why the payments for services keep decreasing. Many of us are also wondering why the executive salaries at HMSA are not included in the fee restrictions that are rendered to the physicians.
Malcolm R. Ing, M.D.
Snakes pose serious threat to Hawaii
So far, Hawaii has been successful in keeping out the dangerous Guam brown tree snake
(Boiga irregularis), but because of the cessation of a program on Guam to keep this snake out, everyone in Hawaii is now at risk. This creature is responsible for decimating most of the bird species on Guam, causing power outages when it climbs power poles and even biting babies in their cribs!
The interdiction program on Guam is being cut May 31. The program has been administered by the U.S. Department of Defense. Why are federal funds being cut for this important program? Because of the war in Iraq, legislators do not feel that the expenditure of $2 million a year is warranted to prevent an environmental catastrophe.
It is imperative that this highly destructive and dangerous snake not be introduced into Hawaii and other locales. This snake is different from other invasive pests such as the coqui frog: we know about this one in advance and have been working hard to keep it out. It is ludicrous that a program that has done so much good is ending.
Please write your representatives regarding this serious matter.
Barbara J. Fahs
Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden
Only sprinters fit to cross streets
Sub-rosa policing of Honolulu crosswalks? To catch jaywalkers? Hey, go to the crosswalk on the mauka on-ramp to H-1 near the Hawaiian Humane Society. I stood there for 20 minutes once until there was a break in traffic and I could run across. I laughed (although I cried, if you know what I mean) one day when the former quarterback of the University of Hawaii team (no, not Colt) tried unsuccessfully to cross while pushing a baby carriage. Auwe.
Add good Samaritan to Ching's attributes
I would like to add to Kalani Simpson's description of Patrick Ching (Star Bulletin, April 10
). Patrick, in addition to being a fine artist, business person, rodeo competitor and rodeo clown, is a good Samaritan who rescued me and a friend during the Waimanalo flood a year ago this month. We had come around from Hawaii Kai and hit a lake by the polo fields in Waimanalo. Cars were going through, so I went right in.
All was well, until a city bus passed on the other side of the road going full speed and totally inundated us. As we sat, waiting for AAA, the water was rising and was several inches inside the car. Fate was with us, as Patrick was coming out of the polo grounds area, having been there to check on his horses, and saw our plight. He yelled at some young men who were playing in the water back toward McDonald's and they all got us turned around and pushed us to dry ground. It was a long way and not an easy task.
I definitely would have lost my car had Patrick not been there. Other people had passed us by, in addition to TheBus, but Patrick came to our rescue. He is a very special person.
Don't let city leaders forget about tax relief
With all our daily problems going on -- right now the rock slide at Waimea Bay -- property taxes seemed to have been placed on the back burner. We may not see another property tax bill for a few months, but one is coming soon. We must keep the pressure on the City Council and the mayor to curtail spending and come up with an equitable property tax bill that is fair to all, especially those living in their own homes! It's not too late to call your Council person.
Roy M. Chee
Imus' remarks pale next to lawmakers'
In January, far more reprehensible and racist remarks were made by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice than Don Imus' remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team.
Boxer insinuated that Rice was incompetent because she is childless, and Abercrombie suggested that Rice only rose to her position because of her race and gender. Boxer insulted every woman who has never had children, and Abercrombie demeaned every woman who has succeeded through conscientious hard work and effort.
As a part-Hawaiian woman born and raised in Hawaii, I found Abercrombie's statement particularly offensive. Rice is one of the most intelligent, accomplished women of this century and a great role model for all women.
Is there any way Al Sharpton could get Boxer and Abercrombie fired, too?
Sandra Puanani Burgess