Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 24

‘Cash for Clunkers’ program is flawed

The “Cash for Clunkers” program was sold as a way to get gas guzzlers off the road and replace them with newer, more fuel efficient cars.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

I’ve got a 1986 Suburban which served my family well, but now that our four children are out of the house, we no longer need it, and saw this as an excellent opportunity to trade in our 12 mpg Suburban for a 51 mpg Prius.

The local Toyota dealer worked hard to make it happen, and when he called to let us know our Prius had arrived, we headed right over to close the deal.

But, much to our and the dealer’s surprise, the CARS program would not allow it. Under the program, our Suburban is somehow classified as a Category III Work Truck, and can only be traded in on another Category III or Category II truck.

So I can trade it in on another SUV with only a 2 mpg gas mileage improvement and get $4,500.

But I get nothing if I trade it in for a 51 mpg Prius. What sense does that make?

And we want to trust our health care to this kind of logic?



Stop talking on cell phone while driving

I thank The Olympian for sharing the column by Maureen Dowd about the dangers of driving while chatting with a cell phone pressed to the ear. By the way, it IS illegal to do so in Washington state and has been for a year now. You would hardly know it by looking around.

By my admittedly rough estimate, I’d say about every 10th driver is yakking away on a hand-held device still.

Maybe they think, “Why not? The law isn’t really being enforced anyway.”

Or there’s that superior rationale, “I’m good at multitasking!”

As Dowd points out, drivers talking on their cells are four times more likely to be in a crash. This practice puts both the talker and those of us sharing the roadways at greater risk.

Our state’s law does allow those who must have a conversation to use a hands-free device. When you consider the costs of maintaining monthly cell phone service and a phone, is it really so much more to invest in a headset or ear piece to talk legally in your car? More importantly, it allows you to keep both hands on the wheel and keep yourself, your passengers and the rest of us a bit safer.

And while you’re at it, how about going a step further? Limit your behind-the-wheel calls to those you absolutely must have, and save the long, leisurely (optional) chats to when you are safely at home on the couch.

We will all be safer for it.



Identifying sheep in wolf’s clothing

I have read many hysterical rants in this column lately about how President Obama is an evil man, a wolf in sheep’s clothing that wants to destroy the America we know and love.

I wonder if these authors can tell a man of God from a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is not easy. The wolf is cunning and employs many tricks to deceive and seduce. See if you can tell the difference between these two.

One man comes from humble origins, moves among the people and is recognized by them as wise. The other man is the son of a king, cavorts with the aristocracy and is anointed by them to rule.

One man strives for peace, the other practices war and torture.

One man tries to heal the sick, the other turns a blind eye to suffering.

One man keeps his faith between himself and God, the other man loudly proclaims his relationship with God in public.

One man fights the tyranny of the money lenders, the other sits at their table, assists them and shares in their profits.

Which of these men is a man of God, and which is the wolf in sheep’s clothing?



Quality of care adversely impacted

It is critical for the public to understand the real impact of historic nursing home Medicaid rates cuts, and I appreciated the article “Lawsuits obstruct budget cuts.” Despite a significant increase in federal funds, nursing homes were slashed by $92 million in the 2009-2011 state budget.

I was dismayed by DSHS bureaucrat Thomas Shapley’s implication that the state shares no responsibility in ensuring quality care. Shapley asserts DSHS doesn’t decide where Medicaid rate cuts are made, stating nursing home providers should manage reductions to have the least impact on residents and services.

Apparently, Shapley does not understand that more than 65 percent of costs are staff-related for nurses, nurse aides, therapists, etc. Most people would quickly recognize that it is simply not possible to significantly cut costs without risking quality. Shapley doesn’t mention that DSHS has begun rationing incontinence briefs and nutritional supplements – a decision that directly affects quality.

There is no flexibility in costs for property taxes, utilities and liability insurance.

Providers have little recourse but to take reductions in areas that affect the number and quality of staff providing direct care, which in turn impacts quality.

As a 30-year provider of nursing home care, I am deeply concerned about the implications of state budget decisions. We cannot assume that nursing homes can absorb the Medicaid underfunding without any impact to quality or accessibility of care. Congress did its part to provide more resources for long-term care. We must spend those monies on caring for our elderly and disabled.