to the Editor

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Sunday, February 17, 2002

Hurricane fund does belong to contributors

I must respond to Jackie Kido's Feb. 6 letter on the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund (HHRF) in which she asserted homeowners aren't entitled to refunds of premiums because "the state stepped forward to cover Hawaii's people during the period private insurers weren't willing to do so."

My insurer willingly continued to provide full coverage with no increase in cost for two years after Iniki hit and HHRF was created. That two-year respite was not to last, however, because my company's support was needed if HHRF was to succeed. So it joined the program, forcing me to do so as well. Thus, my premiums nearly doubled because other Hawaii insurers weren't as reliable as my company. I believe, therefore, that I am entitled to a refund.

It is ironic that Kido chose to draw an analogy between a hurricane insurance refund and an auto insurance refund when she said, ". . . homeowners aren't entitled to an after-the-fact refund any more than they would be with their auto or other insurance." My company refunds money on my automobile policies whenever it collects more than needed -- and last year's refund was much more than small change.

Alan M. Yonan
Hawaii Kai

OHA mismanaged by self-serving trustees

I am quite pleased that the Star-Bulletin published Rowena Akana's Feb. 11 column. It clearly illustrates her political paranoia. The evidence is overwhelming that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has failed miserably to serve its beneficiaries. My legislation is designed to save OHA by turning it into a private trust and save Hawaiians from the politics of Akana and those who choose to exploit OHA for personal gain.

For the record, my alert Hawaiian aide at the Legislature, Bobby Carter, passed on the press release from OHA announcing yet another leadership coup. The bottom line is the bottom line. The recent audit of OHA clearly shows that the majority of assets of OHA are being used administratively and very little to benefit Hawaiians. Most Hawaiians know this with the exception of Akana and others who are feeding at the trough of OHA.

Thank God for trustees Oz Stender, Haunani Apoliona and others who see the wisdom in liberating OHA from the politics of business as usual. This is a harsh letter but the problems with OHA are harsh in demand and innovative solutions, not business as usual.

Sen. Fred Hemmings
25th District


"They cheat, they will miss payroll to their employees and lay off employees, but they will not miss a requirement to give generously and often ... the system is not healthy."

Robert Watada

Campaign Spending Commission executive director, on the lengths to which business owners will go to donate to political candidates who they believe hold the power to make or break their companies.

"I was sickened to see that this kind of thing still exists in our society."

Marjorie Deigert-Richardson

Director of the private school West Maui Carden Academy, where burglars stole computers and scrawled "white power" and "KKK" on the blackboard. A portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also was torn down and ripped to pieces.

DOE has greater needs than preschool

Gov. Ben Cayetano's proposal to create a statewide preschool program is not financially sound when the world economy is experiencing a severe downturn.

Our Department of Education's needs have not been met over the years as revealed by the lack of funding for qualified teachers, textbooks, equipment, necessary repairs and ongoing maintenance of our schools.

We should not waste legislators' time on one of the final wishes of our governor before his term in office comes to a close. In fact, we should eliminate the A+ after-school care program and put the funds into improving the low test scores in basic reading.

Legislators, the DOE and our next governor should get back to the core business of properly educating our students from kindergarten through 12th grade, and fund trade schools and higher education before funding preschools.

Wilbert W. W. Wong

Voters have power to keep gaming at bay

I am getting weary of the perennial skirmish by the proponents and opponents of legalized gambling in the Legislature.

The gambling industry makes obscene amounts of money. Why does it need us? Its cash cow all over the mainland and world must be going dry.

There is only one thing that can trump its dollars and euros -- our precious vote. Be sure to ask all candidates for office in 2002 how they stand on legalized gambling in Hawaii.

This year nearly all incumbents are obliged to run for re-election due to reapportion- ment necessitated by the census. Remember: "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom."

Arvid Youngquist

Hawaii GOP is bigger and better than ever

Richard Borreca's Feb. 8 story, "GOP sends Lingle off to race," was much more descriptive of the Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner than was his Feb. 10 column.

The big story was that there were 1,700 people at the annual GOP fundraiser. Those in attendance represented every age and ethnic group. They were Democrats, Republicans and independents who are committed to making fundamental political changes this November and thereby creating a real two-party system in this state.

The people who attended the Lincoln Day Dinner represent the "new Republican Party" and the leadership of Linda Lingle. No longer can the GOP be accused of being the "haole party" and of meeting in a phone booth.

I think most people were excited that they did not know the names of everyone in the room. The guests looked like Hawaii, and we could not be happier to say "e komo mai" to each and every one of them.

Miriam Hellreich
Republican National Committeewoman

China must be forced to face wrongdoing

Nicholas Kristof's Jan. 24 Facing East column pointed out the problem of the Chinese government's policy to promote its people's hatred toward Japanese and Americans through education and propaganda based on concocted or exaggerated stories and lopsided views.

There are more serious problems such as the perceptions of incidents in Nanjing and at the Marco Polo bridge in 1937. I am grateful that Kristof is concerned with anti-American and anti-Japanese propaganda. I hope that President Bush will push for a change in China's tone of xenophobia.

What we need is friendship, not a legacy of hatred. China will continue to manipulate historical facts without accepting rebuttal. Through this method China has obtained a huge amount of money from Japan without acknowledgment of facts. It aims for a diplomatic advantage over the United States. China is a state of dictatorship, where politics always supersedes reason or facts.

Perhaps one way is for both the United States and the Japanese governments to conduct joint research to establish historical facts of what the Americans, the Japanese and the Chinese actually did or did not do. It may force China to discontinue its habit of manipulating historical facts.

Tokio Inoue



Insurance on their minds

Oversight of rates can make them climb

Legislators are looking at regulating health-insurance premiums thinking that it will lower costs. At what expense? What will it cost us in tax money to support this effort? What benefits will we lose?

Look at car insurance. The insurance commissioner claims regulation of car insurance rates was a wonderful thing. Now, I have to pay extra for coverage I used to get with one premium. If I want wage-loss coverage, I have to pay more. If I want more liability coverage, I have to pay more. If I want a lower deductible on medical benefits, I have to pay more.

Look at workers compensation. Most insurance companies have left the islands because they can't stay in business collecting the premiums the insurance commissioner allows them to collect. That must be very helpful for competition.

We have a great many health benefits required by law. How long before employers have to start cutting out the benefits that are not required by law or start charging employees for a bigger share of health-insurance premiums?

Kathy Higa

State should fix or repeal mandated care

Every year our state legislators pass bills to add more mandated benefits and costly regulation to an already over burdened health-care system. Each year we in the business community scream for relief as we see our insurance premiums go up as a result.

Don't legislators know that they have contributed to this mess? Instead of passing more regulation this year, the Legislature should look at repealing existing laws. It should also look at amending the employer mandate law that obligates business to pay for employee health insurance. This law is out of alignment and need rebalancing (or replacing) now.

Wendy Oyama

CarePlus offers hope for aging population

My father-in-law has been confined at a long-term care facility since October, after working more than 60 years helping to build our Hawaii economy, serving plate lunches to a couple of generations of Hawaiians and faithfully paying his taxes.

He had some savings that he wanted to pass on to his children and grandchildren, but he cannot do it now because of health-care costs. He lies mostly in his bed, looking forward to his daily visits from his wife of 86 and his family.

He needs help in getting up, using the bathroom, changing his clothes, putting on his shoes or slippers and eating. Three of his four heart valves are not functioning well, but at age 92, there will be no surgery for him. He and his wife could not afford the available long-term health-care plans, but they can afford the $10 per month proposed in CarePlus. My personal long-term care insurance plan costs $221 per month, clearly not affordable to him and a great many others.

CarePlus offers hope, through its intergenerational approach of young people and older people helping each other for the common good. It is clearly not a government handout, but a community program that begins to deal with the very serious aging-population challenge that we are facing.

Al Hamai

State has right idea with CarePlus program

I support the CarePlus long-term care program under consideration in the Legislature. I do so despite the fact that my wife and I currently have private LTC insurance. Why do I support CarePlus?

First, the total premium cost for our two policies is more than $5,500 per year. How many retired couples can afford this much money for long-term care insurance? Second, one of us had to apply to three companies before finding one that would sell us insurance. This means that two companies saw one of us as a bad risk, meaning someone who might actually collect benefits before paying in a lot of money in premiums.

What does this say about private long-term care insurance? LTC insurance is a business, and the aim of business is to make a profit. You don't make profit by selling insurance at a reasonable cost to those who need it most, the elderly, the sick and the disabled.

The CarePlus program is designed to help meet the very real long-term care needs of Hawaii's people in a way that private insurance cannot. It is very affordable, because it covers and is paid for by the entire adult population. It provides modest benefits, which will help many families care for disabled family members at home. The benefits themselves (as well as the premiums) will increase to account for inflation. It does not require employer or state contributions, but will be paid for entirely by the ultimate beneficiaries, the citizens of Hawaii.

Finally, a word about the opposition to this bill by some representatives of the LTC insurance industry. Such opposition is shortsighted. Rather than a threat, the industry should see this program as an opportunity. The insurance industry, which originally opposed Medicare, soon learned that Medicare opened a whole new and profitable market for supplement policies.

I therefore urge the LTC industry to reconsider and join us in support of the CarePlus program.

Anthony Lenzer

Letter guidelines

The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point on issues of public interest. The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed, must include a mailing address and daytime telephone number.

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