DESTROYING SOLVENT SYSTEM? GO FIGURE
In response to Lance Holter's discussion of President Obama's health care reform (Commentary, Sept. 8), the following is offered.
Health care in the U.S. is covered by three main systems — Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance.
Two of these systems are bankrupt, and will be unable to make payments beyond 2017. The third is solvent, and can make all of its payments for the foreseeable future.
The thrust of current health care insurance reform is to take the one solvent system and roll it into the two systems that are bankrupt.
The major reason for reform put forward by Mr. Holter is that HMSA pays its top employees too much. So a system that satisfies 85 percent of the people, makes a profit and provides stunning technological innovation needs to be destroyed. You go, guy.
Mark Felman | Kapolei
REFORM WILL BE A WIN-WIN SITUATION
I am 65 years old, have lived and worked for decades in both the United States and Australia, and strongly support a major reform in America's health care insurance system.
Australians have a much better deal than Americans have when it comes to health care insurance. Australia's system is similar to the Medicare program in the U.S. but covers everyone, not just people over 65.
Some seniors in the U.S. worry that reform advocated by President Obama will weaken the Medicare we already have. But it won't.
The president's plan will strengthen Medicare and save us, individually and as a nation, considerable money. The AARP, which has a pretty good record of championing causes for senior citizens, says the same thing.
Ben Kerkvliet | Honolulu
THERE'S NO BETTER OPTION THAN REFORM
Beth Giesting's comments in the Sunday (Aug. 30) paper highlights the inadequacies in the present system which need to be fixed.
Good citizens of this state, rise up against the misinformation and misguided fearful advocates of no change in government intervention for better health care coverage.
President Obama's reforms and the House bills will better the delivery of health care to the entire population. The fear of senior citizens against big government is not based on reality. AARP is in favor of changes.
What health care is now available will not be taken away. Medicare can only be expanded and promises more in services aimed at being well in mind and body.
There is no other option for better health care than to have every citizen support reform now.
Christine Ling | Honolulu
WORKERS' BEEF WITH LINGLE IS BAFFLING
Watching the news of the Labor Day unity picnic, hearing people say they would rather take a pay cut than layoffs and continue to blame the Lingle administration, I am baffled.
The governor originally offered three days off a month and you keep your job. Your union said no to that proposal, therefore you are now out of a job.
Your beef is now with the union that supposedly represents you, not the governor. The union tried to play hardball with the governor and with your future and they let you down. What part of that is not understood?
James Roller | Mililani
DOE CONCERNED ABOUT ALL STUDENTS
Curtis Muraoka (Commentary, "State shortchanges charter school students," Sept. 3) correctly points out that in addition to the $5,536 per pupil charter schools receive from the state, "the DOE provides special education and other services to charter schools." He valued the special education services at $2,750 per student.
However, he failed to address the magnitude of either DOE expenditures for these "other services" or charter schools' other sources of funding.
Muraoka's 2007 analysis ignores that just five of the "other services" paid by the DOE for charter schools cost $2,123 per student.
This amount represents the DOE's covering charter schools' costs for insurance and their employer share of employee health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and pension plan payments.
In addition, in 2007 the Department provided nearly $4.4 million of direct funds to charter schools through programs such as Impact Aid, Title I, teacher quality, Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
Furthermore, Muraoka overlooks millions that charter schools receive directly from non-DOE sources such as the OHA and KSBE. These other funds should be factored into per-pupil spending as they are for the DOE.
While Muraoka's facts are fuzzy, what should be clear is that the DOE is concerned about the achievement of all students, whether attending charter or noncharter schools.
Brian Hallett | Administrator, Budget Branch, state Department of Education
ISLE STATE WORKERS' FUNCTIONS BROADER
Mr. Guy Benjamin (Letters, Sept. 6) is correct when he states that Hawai'i has more state workers per capita than many other states. However, state workers here perform many functions done by county and city staff elsewhere.
For example, in many states, most human service workers are employed by the county, not by the state.
A true measure of whether Hawai'i's public employment is commensurate with that of other states must take into account all nonfederal civil service positions.
Based on U.S. Census figures for 2007, the population of the country was 299,398,000, with 16,453,570 full-time positions held by state and local employees (5.5 percent). Hawai'i's population was 1,283,388, with 71,503 full-time local government positions (5.6 percent), which is a comparable ratio.
Most state of Hawai'i employees accept that they need to make sacrifices, but severe layoffs are not the answer.
Savings should be realized through the use of furlough days, cutting overhead costs by shutting nonessential offices two to three days a month, and more modest staff reductions through attrition.
Susan Sarhan | Kapolei