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POSTED: Monday, April 13, 2009

Doctors lose as HMSA gains

Once again HMSA announces that it will be substantially increasing its rates, this time by 12.7 percent!

I wonder if the public has fully paid attention to this 600-pound gorilla. Per this description, HMSA has increased its rates with virtual impunity over the last 20 years at levels more than double our consumer price index (CPI).

As a physician, what is insulting to me is that in the same time period, it has steadily decreased physicians' reimbursements at less than half of our CPI. How anyone thinks that this adds up is beyond me. Between this and the lack of reasonable tort reform, is it any wonder that we are now facing a critical and worsening shortage of physicians?

Ronald Kienitz, M.D.

Concentra Medical Centers Honolulu

Equality and diversity need our support

To all those who have stood up to protect equality in Hawaii and across America, last week reminded us of the righteousness of our work. From Iowa to Vermont, the bells of equality rang proudly across our nation. President Barack Obama believes in civil unions. At this time in our nation's history, the Hawaii Senate should pass House Bill 444 because it affirms key strengths in diversity and equality to help local families, and will earn very favorable reviews in the global marketplace. The Constitution requires equality and that was the same decision of a unanimous Supreme Court in Iowa and a super-majority Legislature in Vermont this week. Equality helps all families.

Eduardo Hernandez

Former Hawaii resident

New York City

Public health insurance options gettting stalled

During the election, President Obama promised to give everyone the choice of private insurance or a public health insurance plan like Medicare — with lower premiums and better benefits.

Obama's public health insurance option would save us up to 30 percent on our insurance premiums by being more efficient and driving down prices across the board, according to the Commonwealth Fund report.

The insurance lobbyists are fighting against Obama's public health insurance option. Insurance companies know that lower costs for us mean lower profits for them.

Tom Tizard

Kailua

Tell us where money for education is going

Thank you for the very revealing article concerning the budget misinformation being fed to the public by the Department of Education (”;Hamamoto's budget claims don't add up,”; March 29 Gathering Place). As a taxpayer, voter and retired teacher, I was stunned and angered to learn about the DOE's million-dollar-plus Disney World outing for 600 people (in June 2008). Where and when was the public told about this proposed use of scarce education monies?

Was this trip funded by tax money ostensibly delegated for the education of our CHILDREN? Our tax money for hiring more teachers? For continuing art, music and other special subjects recently pruned from the curriculum “;for lack of funds”;? For air-conditioning intolerable classrooms during the worst of the hot spells?

The cost of the actual “;conference”; might be more palatable to the public if we knew that the 600 attendees at least paid for their own airfares, about $600 each. Their hotel accommodations — who paid that humongous amount? How many nights were they taken care of? Meals?

In her article, Georgina Kawamura, state director of Budget and Finance, has shed light to the tax-paying public that over a million dollars of our hard-pressed DOE monies went to a Chosen Few. Who were they? How chosen? Were they classroom teachers who truly make the difference in the classroom and the success of our students?

Or were they the “;Aristocrats”; in the air-conditioned front offices with the questionable job descriptions administering the DOE? Many of these generously-salaried and often redundant “;District Resource Teachers and Personnel,”; “;Complex Resource Teachers,”; “;Educational Specialists,”; “;Consultants,”; “;Coordinators,”; etc., etc., are currently bleeding our public school system funds, having little measurable impact on the day-to-day lives of our students.

When will Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto make possible expenditures of the DOE visible to me and other taxpayers? We deserve much more transparency, fiscal responsibility, conscience and advance notice in the handling of our huge education budget. Some of us feel this whole apparent extravagance was a shibai as dishonest as the current mortgage scandal.

Helen E. Rummell

Honolulu

Spending inspires words 'to Obama'

May I suggest a new verb to the English language: “;to Obama.”;

The verb means for a president and/or Congress to spend money recklessly and without concern for the future. It can also mean spending more than you have.

For example: The president “;Obamanized”; the federal budget with earmarks and other expenditures that weakened the dollar and future generations and put the country into debt for generations to come.

Jim Delmonte

Honolulu

               

     

 

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