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 November 9, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 19   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Insurance not the villain

Joe R. Guadarrama (Forum, Oct. 19) blames the growing cost of medical care on “the greed and costly formulas used to extract payment for services by health providers and medical plans alike.” He has swallowed the current administration’s lies hook line and sinker. We don’t need a Jacob’s Ladder; we need an honest discourse on the true facts and a step by step reform plan to address the true facts.

Before retirement, I spent over 40 years in the health care industry and can attest to the following:

Health care providers do not allow patient’s conditions to worsen so that they can perform more expensive surgeries as claimed by the president. They do order medically unnecessary tests and studies (defensive medicine) to protect themselves from unjustified lawsuits by unscrupulous lawyers. Tort reform would solve this, but the president will not agree to it. (Tort lawyers contribute millions to him and his party).

A good deal of wasted money is spent on unnecessary care demanded by the patients themselves. Several times in my career I was asked by both physicians and hospital administrators what could be done to stop the patients from doing this. I explained that co-payments could help, but the first line of defense is the doctor him/her self.

Medical care, drugs and equipment are expensive. They are expensive to develop, expensive to produce, and expensive to defend from frivolous lawsuits. If you want a cheap car, you will get one without all the safety features and a lot of mechanical problems; the same goes for medical care.

Health insurance companies are not the villains the president would like you to believe. Check the Internet. Their net profits run from 2.5 to 5 percent. If that’s excessive, Microsoft, Apple, etc. are way beyond gross.

They don’t want to cover pre-existing conditions; to them it’s like issuing fire insurance after the house catches fire. They don’t like to cover unproven treatments or other high risk items.

There are ways to handle these. If they violate their contract with you, you can go to the State Insurance Commission or sue in court. Try that with the Federal Government.

Finally, as Catholics, we should all go to www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2009/09-204.shtml and read what our bishops have to say on the subject.

Clifford R. Wiesner

Reform for all

The objections of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the impending health care reform effort are disappointing, to say the least. There is so much at stake here:

The primary goals of health-care reform are 1) to end application denials based on pre-existing conditions and 2) to stop insurance companies from kicking enrollees out when they get sick.

Subsidies would be there for individuals and families to buy health care insurance if they cannot afford the insurance premiums. With individual and employer mandates in place, up to 95 percent of Americans would have coverage; and, hopefully, this achievement, in itself, would reduce insurance premiums for others up to 10 percent. There would also be minimum coverage required for all health insurance products, and none could have annual or lifetime caps.

Health care reform will end the high number of bankruptcies in our country because of medical expenses. Other goals include improving the quality of care and the accountability of care, using evidence-based data and oversight to control costs.

It is high time for the United States to join the rest of the developed countries in the world to provide a system of universal health care coverage. And, over a 10-year period, we will bend the cost curve of overall health care costs, to boot.

The idea that the Catholic bishops could find ways to oppose the above is almost beyond belief. Maybe that is why fewer and fewer Catholic Americans seek their moral guidance from the Catholic hierarchy.

George Fulmore

Flu and Sign of Peace

The Sign of Peace needs to be eliminated from the Mass. With the flu epidemic, washing the hands and keeping the hands away from the face are two of the suggestions to keep the flu from spreading.

Yet at Mass we must shake hands with those around us — some of whom have rubbed their eyes, blown their noses, coughed, sneezed, and held dirty tissues. The ones who do these things always extend their hands for a handshake. It is awkward not to shake hands with them, but it is also unhealthy to do so.

Those of us who prefer to attend Mass without touching those around us get sneers, rolled eyes or a giggle from others. The Sign of Peace among the congregation does not promote or produce camaraderie. Giving the congregation a choice does not work because those who want to do it look down upon those who do not want to do it.

Is that what Mass is all about? Shaking hands with those around us needs to be eliminated so that we can focus our attention on the Mass itself. Those same people who are so adamant about shaking hands can be the ones reading the bulletin during the Liturgy of the Word or homily.

It seems to be what’s really important at Mass needs to be re-examined.

Barbara McLaughlin
Walnut Creek

Cathedral music exults

My husband and I prayed happily at the 10 a.m. Mass at the cathedral last Sunday.

The music fit the shape of the cathedral. It let our spirits soar. A sense of logic and purpose pervaded the hymns and acclamations and the tempos reflected music director Rudy deVos’ firm command of music construction. A particular jewel was the tiny Communion antiphon, based on chant and sung by the cantor with peerless diction.

May this exultant music continue to lead us all to Christ the Light!

Victoria Hurd

Where’s the new high school?

The Oct. 5 edition of The Catholic Voice included the Diocese High School Information Guide. Once again there is no high school in the Tri-valley area (Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin), the only area in the diocese that has grown so much in the last 30 years without a Catholic high school.

Just a few weeks ago, docents from the cathedral were out in our parishes at our Masses talking all about the new cathedral and asking for donations to help finish paying off the debt, the cost that was supposed to be funded by private donations.

We have a new bishop and a new cathedral and we are tired of just promises for a new high school. Let’s get it done!

Nancy Morgan

Unreasonable argument

In his letter (Forum, Oct. 19) John Kyle of Hayward referred to Article 2 for eliminating the natural right to keep and bear arms. If he would bother to read the U.S. Constitution, he’d notice that Article 2 pertains to the powers (not rights) of the Executive branch, with only a passing reference to the militia. It is, of course, Amendment 2 that protects an individual’s (not a state’s) right to defend himself. I realize that both “article” and “amendment” begin with the letter “a” and can therefore confuse liberals, especially if both terms have the same number.

His reference to the murder of the four Oakland police officers as reason to add more gun laws is ridiculous, both in common sense and statistically. This may come as a shock, but there are already laws against murder. As this did not deter the criminal who killed those cops, what makes Mr. Kyle think that an additional gun law (added to the numerous already present) would have any effect?

Studies have shown this to be true as well. In every community where citizens are allowed to own guns and carry them concealed, serious crime rates plummet. Conversely, the cities with the highest murder rates also have the most oppressive gun “control” laws.

As the saying goes, when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Mr. Kyle unreasonably advocates for rendering law-abiding citizens defenseless against criminals who would murder, rape and rob. This contradicts common sense, the natural law and traditional Catholic teaching of the right of self-defense.

James A. Smith, Esq.
Walnut Creek

Second Amendment defense

In response to John Kyle’s letter (Forum, Oct. 19), there are only two legitimate ways to change the Constitution of the United States. One is by Constitutional Convention and the other is by further amendment.

No Constitutional amendment has been more viciously attacked than the Second Amendment. To verify that Ms. Sotomayor understood the necessity to adhere to appropriate Constitutional standards was an essential duty that the senators had to perform.

Mr. Kyle mentions the tragedies that occurred in Oakland and Pittsburgh. The solution to such violence is to lock up or execute those who commit such crimes. To arbitrarily seize the only means a person has to effectively defend themselves in an emergency is both ethically and constitutionally indefensible.

Surely the murder of the seven police officers as well as other crimes of violence argues for the need for a Second Amendment to protect us when the police cannot get there in time. This is demonstrated between 1.5 million and 2.5 million times a year in this country.

William Ellis
Walnut Creek

Inspiring story

What a great, inspiring story of Tulio and the Miracle of Amen (Voice, Oct. 5) written by Carmen Hartono. It should have made the front page.

Veronica Gosling

Report from the Philippines

The recent disasters brought about by typhoons that hit the Philippines reveal the deadly results of unorganized planning, especially for, of, and by the poor. Why do the poor suffer the most?

From the agricultural sector farmers are drawn towards predatory creditors for capital, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. While waiting for the harvest, without any alternative work, they turn to problematic diversions like drinking, smoking, gambling and “making a baby,” which has created a population explosion.

Many of the children are malnourished and sickly, unable to read and write, without guidance and direction. Many young men and women are out of school and work, adding untold problems.

A similar phenomenon happens to our fisher-folk. The coastal reefs have been destroyed by big, corporate trawlers depleting the fish supply and driving them further out to sea. In Maangas, a typical fishing village, the men have left their nets for risky employment in the big towns and cities. What is left of what they earn is not enough to feed their family. Hunger and illness are the physical signs, but what is hidden is more ravaging—ignorance, depression and abandonment.

As a promoter of Christian Life Community in the provinces of Bicol, I am working with others to form small ecclesial communities among the poor so that members are trained to provide for their basic needs. In our 11-hectare Farm of St. Ignatius three farm technicians are training other members in organic and natural faming. We are producing our own fertilizers from worms and composting. We sell our farm products at the organic market every weekend.

From the very start, our efforts have been directed not just towards the alleviation of poverty, but its eradication. I am grateful for the generosity of people in the Oakland Diocese who continue to support my ministry.

Deacon Stanley Lee
Camarines Sur, The Philippines

(Deacon Stanley Lee, ordained for the Oakland Diocese, is serving as a missionary in Bicol. Donations can be sent to him at 24424 Broadmore Ave., Hayward, CA 94544.)

The opinions expressed in letters to Reader's Forum are the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Voice or the Oakland Diocese.

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