Single-payer needed if we are to have security

The closing of the Riverwood Centers represents yet another failure of a health care system based upon a dysfunctional patchwork of insurance coverage (“Center’s closing could strand mentally ill,” March 18). The combination of stalled public funding and diminishing payments from private insurance companies has brought about the demise of a crucial resource for thousands of Minnesotans who struggle with severe mental illness.

We live in a society that spends double per capita as other wealthy democracies, yet fails to meet the basic health needs of its people. It’s long past time to do what’s right — to implement a Minnesota single-payer system that would ensure that all health providers, including safety-net facilities, receive fair compensation for the services they provide. Under single-payer, all Minnesotans would have the security of knowing their health needs would always be met, without the looming threat of medical bankruptcy. And never again would they be forced to go scrambling for crisis care, as they are now.

Dr. Dave Dvorak, Minneapolis

• • •

Back in 1981, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was extensive, and most of his colon had to be removed. Horrible enough, but to add to his ordeal, when he returned from the hospital, there waiting in his mailbox was a letter from his insurance company stating that, due to his cancer diagnosis, his coverage was being canceled, effective immediately.

That day he began calling other insurance companies one by one, looking for new coverage, and every one of them turned him down. He asked if he could get coverage with a ridiculously high $10,000 deductible, and still the answer was no. In the eyes of the insurance industry, he was an untouchable.

Now, 33 years later, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, this can’t happen to anyone else. Anyone who says the ACA should be scrapped hasn’t experienced what my father went through. Is the ACA a perfect solution? No, single-payer would be better, but the ACA goes a long way toward protecting us from some of the abuses inherent in our for-profit health care system.

Bruce McFarlan, Minneapolis



Another area ripe for marketing changes

You are 4 years old. You love toys and candy — and both are displayed in abundance at your favorite big-box toy store.

In fact, as soon as you toddle in behind Mom and Dad, you’re surrounded by a rainbow of colorful candies — rows and rows of the sweet stuff, all cunningly displayed at eye level, all within your arms’ reach.

One out of four kids in America today is overweight; sugary foods and beverages are major contributors. This generation of children may be the first in two centuries to have shorter lives than their parents.

Can parents just say “no” to kids’ pleas for candy? Sure. There’s no substitute for personal responsibility and vigilant parenting. But look around — self-discipline and restraint are not winning the day. Why make it harder for kids and families to stay healthy?

CVS recently set a good example by vowing to remove tobacco products from its drugstore shelves. Stores like Toys ‘R’ Us should consider following suit by limiting — or at least elevating — their candy displays. If they care about their smallest, most vulnerable customers, they will stop what amounts to a predatory practice.

Deborah Malmo, Plymouth



Hard to sit through — because of the seats

Could we all just admit that the seat design for the Guthrie Theater’s McGuire Proscenium Stage was a failure and that it’s time to invest in a fix? I enjoyed a recent performance, but not the stiff neck. Please, Guthrie, tell us we won’t be forced to live with those pain-causing seats forever. The red velvet should stay; the angle needs to go.

Kevin Reuther, Minneapolis



Of course, a popular vote has its blemishes

A few people are still fretting (“Lobbyists target Electoral College,” March 16) because George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election even though Al Gore carried the nationwide popular vote (by some 545,000 of 101,500,000 ballots cast). Actually, Bush prevailed in the popular vote (by about 290,000) if one large county is excluded from the tally. That is Los Angeles County, which went for Gore by a landslide. Who would ever want L.A. to decide anything?

Richard R. Dobson, Fargo, N.D.



You’ve got it all wrong

For those of us who love cold and snow — 50 subzero nights and 61 inches of snow — this was the Best. Winter. Ever. (Variety, March 20). Lots of opportunities for Nordic skiing and skating.

Tom Brandes, Plymouth