Recently when I received a prescription for doxycycline hyclate at my insurance company’s (Aetna’s) preferred pharmacy, the copay was about $50. I objected, as I had gotten this prescription many times before at a copay of $1 to $2. The Walgreens tech, and the manager whom I then requested, told me that $50 was the correct price. I then stepped aside and called Aetna and was told the same.
At the time, I did not know that Aetna had made the hyclate salt a Tier 3 drug (tiers determine cost) and the monohydrate salt a Tier 1 — though the active ingredient, doxycycline, was the same for both salts. Both salts are equally effective. Both salts are Tier 1 in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield and UnitedHealth formularies — and perhaps others.
I since have spoken with numerous Aetna personnel about the doxycycline pricing (and perhaps the salts of other active ingredients) as indicative of a pricing system problem. Also, Aetna loads the retail pharmacy’s computer with its formulary; it could also include a notification regarding equivalent salts, to ensure customer cost-effectiveness.
I finally spoke with a woman who said she was the “executive recovery unit specialist in the office of the president of Aetna.” To no avail — she defended this practice as being justified by their Board of Doctors review. I am one of those patients who did not receive the same level of responsiveness as state Rep. Rod Hamilton (“The murky world of who decides drug access, price,” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 19).
The placement of drugs in a given tier system varies by insurance company. The premium of an insurance plan is transparent; the placement of drugs in the tier system is murky. I appreciate the work of Rep. Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, on the need for transparency price setting for pharmaceuticals.
Dee Oliveira, Minneapolis
FEMINISM AND ABORTION
‘Real’ movement respects choice, despite letter writer’s definition
As a feminist (real, not phony) since the 1970s, I have to respond to the Feb. 26 letter writer who stated that “real feminists believe in respecting and protecting human life at every stage — from conception to natural death.” The founders of the modern feminist movement have worked tirelessly for women to have equal rights, including the right to autonomy, abortion rights and reproductive rights, and many more. The bottom line is that women should have the right to choose; whether it is a job, voting or decisions about their body, it is only theirs and their partner’s (if they have one) to make. Feminists do not judge what decisions other women make; we support and respect their right to be able to make choices in every aspect of their lives.
Karen Jaffee, Edina
FEMINISM AND WORKSPACES
‘It’s not about excluding men’ — but it is if you exclude men
As a feminist male, I was troubled by “A women’s place” (Feb. 25), which celebrated workplaces where “a lack of men” is a cure for pervasive sexism. I can’t imagine that the solution to sexism is a segregated world where one gender withdraws from another. And let’s all admit that a workplace that excludes workers because of gender is not a “sexism-free hub.”
Paul Maravelas, Mayer
• • •
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Star Tribune, for the wonderfully funny article about the brilliantly named “Coven” (the women-only, co-working space now opening in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis) that includes the following priceless sentence: “ ‘If members need to bring men into the space,’ said Liz Giel, gesturing to the unfinished conference room behind her, sliding doors will offer privacy, ‘so that our members will never have to see a dude.’ ”
Excuse the clichéd language, but you just can’t make this stuff up. When I read the piece to my wife, who confounds gender stereotypes by enjoying an occasional glass of beer and by having played Ping-Pong as a girl, she thought it was satire (or should that be parody?). And its being presented uncritically merely adds to its presumably unintended comedic effect.
As a man genetically predisposed to drink beer and play Ping-Pong (activities frowned upon at the Coven) and who would never be caught dead drinking mimosas, I would feel out of place in such an environment, but I deeply sympathize with the dreadful plight of affluent bourgeois feminists in Western industrialized nations and loudly applaud their attempts to find, to borrow language from the great Virginia Woolf, a room of their own. Once safely ensconced in their dude-beer-and-Ping-Pong-free zone, maybe they can give some thought to their sisters — our sisters — in those parts of the world where millions of women have more to worry about than pesky glass ceilings or the irritating chap sitting next to them at the coffee shop.
Bernard Carpenter, Chanhassen
WALKER ART CENTER
It wouldn’t hurt if the new boss has the qualities of the old one
As the Walker Art Center begins a search for a new leader, I would ask that our community not diminish the contributions of former director Olga Viso (“The Walker’s next move,” Feb. 25).
Olga made a great gift to our community — she gave us back the Walker. As one of the longest observers of the arts scene in our cities, I can remember the days when Walker leadership actually stated that the Walker could be located anywhere. It operated in the rarefied sphere of the international contemporary arts curatorial world, and our community was not a very important audience.
While it is always mentioned, in an assessment of Olga’s term as director, that she raised a lot of money for renovations of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Walker building, remember what those renovations did. In the Sculpture Garden, her plans made the garden more family-friendly. It is now an outdoor park that invites families and children and people of all ages. Her changes to the building made the Walker more accessible.
Over the years, I rarely saw a Walker director at local gallery openings and arts events at other organizations until Olga came. Olga was there. When the lack of communication with our Native American community was raised, Olga handled the situation with dignity and respect. She listened to the Native community. I commend Olga for locating the Walker Art Center, and herself, in the middle of our community and our lives. That is her best gift and to my mind, her most important legacy.
Lyndel King, Minneapolis
The writer is director and chief curator of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota.
Thoughts of legalization raise concern of secondhand effects
I am writing in response to the Feb. 18 commentary by John Paul Scott (“The marijuana moment”). I do not smoke marijuana and I am not for its legalization. I’m not trying to be cruel, nor am I against it because I’m afraid it will ruin family values. My concern is much more personal.
I have a severe reaction to secondhand pot smoke, even in the open air. Marijuana does not loosen me up; instead, it produces agitation, paranoia, hysterical weeping or screaming, and sometimes violent actions against others. Those are the worst symptoms. With luck, I only have to struggle with asthma and heart arrhythmia.
I already struggle with this now. My concern is that with legalization it will worsen.
MaryAnne NiShidhe, St. Paul
MENTAL HEALTH FACILITIES
Children’s center is still around
Volunteers of America-Minnesota would like to set the record straight regarding a Feb. 27 letter asserting that the Children’s Residential Treatment Center operated by Abbott Northwestern Hospital ended in 1981. In fact, the Children’s Residential Treatment Center (https://www.voamnwi.org/crtc) continues to this day, one of four youth residential centers operated by VOA-MN. We have provided intensive residential treatment at CRTC since 2000, when we acquired the service from Allina Health Systems. We provide trauma-informed, family-centered care, in a secure setting, for children and adolescents ages 11 to 17 who struggle with mental health. Please go to our website or call 612-870-4300 for more information.
Kelly Wesner, Minneapolis
The writer is director of youth residential services for Volunteers of America-Minnesota and Wisconsin.