Readers Write (April 9): Sanford Health, pensions, income, mental health

  • Updated: April 8, 2013 - 7:02 PM
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HEALTH CARE MERGER

Private organizations can hide their mistakes

The writer of the April 8 Letter of the Day, comparing Sanford Health favorably to the University of Minnesota, asks: “Am I missing something?” Indeed he is, but he has company.

Sanford is a private organization, and although it must disclose some information, most of its operations can remain hidden from the public gaze. It can hide its mistakes. The U is a public entity, and although it can hide some of its information, most of its operations must be disclosed — so its mistakes are obvious to the public.

This comparison is true of most public and private entities. It results in the widespread but misleading belief that private companies are always better-managed and more efficient than government organizations.

Elizabeth J. Hinds, Morris, Minn.

• • •

Thousands of Minnesota’s military members (active or retired) access civilian medical facilities through Tricare, the health care program of the Department of Defense. However, some of the “most renowned institutions in Minnesota” are not among Tricare in-network providers. Not Fairview, not the University of Minnesota.

Tricare beneficiaries can choose to visit out-of-network providers, but in doing so expose themselves to significant fees. They also experience more complicated claims processing and billing procedures.

Whether Fairview Health Services is acquired by the University of Minnesota, merges with Sanford Health or continues to operate as a standalone, not-for profit institution, I hope that its hospitals, clinics and affiliated providers will agree to become in-network providers of Tricare. I hope all of the “most renowned institutions in Minnesota” will.

Robert Keller, Edina

 

The writer is retired from the U.S. Air Force.

* * *

PENSION FUNDS

One way or another, burden is transferred

Well, I certainly feel much better after reading Don Leathers’ April 8 commentary “Minnesotans should be wary of public pension distrust.” Here I thought that the full $36 million proposed to support ailing pension funds would come out of taxes. Thankfully, I now know that only $13 million would come out of my left pocket (taxes), while the remaining $26 million, to support the police and firefighters, would come out of my right pocket (additional fees on homeowner and auto insurance).

Thanks for the clarification.

Richard Hughes, Crystal

* * *

INCOMES

Numbers show why disparity is an issue

In response to the writer who can’t understand the “fetish” some have with the incomes of others: I am a retired public schoolteacher. My average salary was around $50,000 a year, and I was perfectly happy about that. I worked my butt off my entire career. An eight-hour workday would have been a short one.

During the school year, weekends and evenings were most often devoted to schoolwork, at the expense of family time. A recent article in the Star Tribune reported that an executive with Supervalu received $12 million for about eight months of work. At my salary, I would have to work 240 years to make that amount. C’mon, isn’t something out of whack here?

Tom Cornish, Minneapolis

• • •

The Business Roundtable says that Social Security and Medicare cuts are needed. The members of this association of CEOs want more while paying less, and they’ve succeeded. As a group last year, the Fortune 500 companies paid an effective tax rate of 8 percent, with 25 of the largest 100 paying no taxes.

Since the mid-1990s, America’s CEOs have realized 15 percent to 25 percent increases in compensation every year. American workers have seen wage stagnation, forced unpaid vacations, increased medical contributions and jobs shipped overseas.

The top 1 percent now captures 96 percent of the nation’s income gains. Before supply-side tax policies started in the 1980s, 65 percent of the nation’s income growth went to the lower 99 percent, fueling the economy.

The president and Congress all make more than $175,000 a year — seven times the average household income in America. They receive free, lifetime medical benefits and generous pensions. Over the next few days, they will show us who they truly represent: The few who don’t need Social Security (because they make the equivalent of a monthly Social Security check in minutes), or the many for whom Social Security is (or will be) needed to survive.

Carl Lee, Minnetonka

• • •

It is not logical to think corporations can pay less to the government and less to their workers and have the cost of government go down.

Becky Carpenter, Minneapolis

* * *

MENTAL HEALTH

Much depends upon the language we use

As the daughter of a therapist and the sister of someone who has suffered from clinical anxiety, I appreciated the article “Avoiding risks can be risky for kids” (April 8). I think that anxiety is an underdiscussed and often trivialized issue, and I applaud Georgiann Steely for sharing her personal experiences. That said, I found some of the language in the article problematic and potentially injurious to ­mental-health practice. Most upsetting was the ostensibly reassuring claim that helicopter parenting does not necessarily “doom children to therapy.”

Therapy is a privilege, not a punishment. To assert that some people are “doomed” for therapy both perpetuates the stigma of seeking help for mental disorders and portrays therapy as a dreaded practice not necessary for “normal people.”

Mental-health awareness is a red-button issue right now, but as long as attitudes like this permeate our media, people will shy away from helpful treatment options. In actuality, every last one of us could benefit from routine therapy and professional guidance. We are not “doomed for therapy.” Instead, therapy keeps many of us from feeling doomed.

Kate Nesbit, Northfield, Minn.

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