A solution: Treat it like retirement savings

The March 27 editorial about the lack of long term health care insurance came short of specific suggestions. Instead of just proposing "tax breaks," we should look at a clear precedent -- contributions to traditional IRAs.

As with long-term insurance, the rationale is to encourage individuals to contribute to their retirement and care. Contributions to IRA are used to adjust gross income on Form 1040 when filing income tax returns.

Premiums for long term care insurance should be used in the same way. The loss of tax revenue would be more than compensated for by reducing the projected Medicaid payments for millions of seniors who may need a government assistance in long term care.


* * *

Health care case

We're not going to just ignore others' needs

As a progressive, I am a strong believer that we are your brothers' keepers. Some of us are gifted (and lucky) to be able to make prudent decisions.

But some of us, through no fault of our own, are placed in situations where our decisionmaking has no affect on the ultimate outcome. Some of us have the resources to buy health insurance. Some of us don't.

And some of us would be denied provisions by our insurance carrier even if we had the means to by insurance. To contend that people who don't have money or insurance should "stay sick" or "die," as a March 30 letter writer contends, is unworthy of anyone.


• • •

Watching the Supreme Court judges debate aspects of Obamacare was amusing: These privileged elite folks, so secure in their own golden federal health insurance, trying to outdo one another with clever repartee with administration attorneys over minutia to show how wise they are.

If they really had anything resembling wisdom, they would realize that the United States has a health care system that is broken, unsustainable, corrupt and devolved from an absurdly flawed concept: Employee-based health care. What? Why?

This archaic third-party payment system, where patients are not responsible for payment, has inflated the cost so much that companies can no longer afford to provide coverage, and anyone without a job is priced out of the system. Get laid off through no fault of your own (like me) and burn through all your retirement savings paying for private insurance.

The sad thing is that we elect representatives year after year who do nothing to fix health care, partly because they themselves are so coddled with lifetime free heath care and wonderful pensions that they don't have the imagination or intelligence to empathize with the growing unwashed masses.

Like one said to the press recently: "We cannot afford to throw 40 million new people into the health care system." I see: They have theirs, so the hell with everyone else.


* * *

Higher education

In Minnesota, the U isn't the only option

In a March 18 article ("Judge the U on what it does going forward"), University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler asserted that "we are the state's university," referring to the U. This is not accurate.

As most Minnesotans know, our citizens benefit greatly from our seven state universities (Bemidji State University; Metropolitan State University; Minnesota State University, Mankato; Minnesota State University, Moorhead; St. Cloud State University; Southwest Minnesota State University, and Winona State University).

In 2010-11, student enrollment at our state universities was nearly 83,000, or more than 20 percent higher than the total enrollment at the U's five campuses. The seven public universities and 24 two-year community and technical colleges that together comprise the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system account for 60 percent of the state's undergraduate population, compared with 15 percent for the U.

The reputations of our state universities have been built on a long and distinguished record of quality and pride in consistently graduating the leaders of this great state. At Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, we have a place for every student; they will receive an extraordinary education from dedicated faculty, and we are proud to be the state's most affordable higher-education option.


The writers are presidents of Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Minnesota State University, Moorhead, respectively.

* * *


On state tax questions and the federal budget

I'd like to thank Myron Frans, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Revenue, for his letter "State strives to be of assistance to taxpayers."

The letter happily reports that the department's overhaul of its website to correct concerns for tax help will be up and running by May. Mr. Frans, when do you pay your taxes? The rest of us must pay on or before April 15. Maybe answering the phone would be a bridge until it is fixed.


• • •

Tiger Woods finally has another tournament win. It had been 932 days since his last win. He was continually asked about it.

As of Friday, it had been 1,049 days since the U.S. Senate had passed a balanced budget. Why aren't people asking Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., why he's not bringing a budget to the floor for a vote?

MIKE MCLEAN, Richfield