Obama insufficiently sold his needed reform

President Obama’s major flaw as a leader is that he consistently fails to explain his policies even when they are under heavy bombardment by his opponents. Then at the last minute he releases a blitzkrieg attack that is too late to win a clear-cut victory. Obamacare is a case in point.

First, it should be made perfectly clear to the public about how essential a successful health care program is to the entire nation. Millions are falling into bankruptcy because of astronomical medical bills for catastrophic procedures. The current solution of spaghetti-supper fundraisers to aid such families is only a Band-Aid.

Second, the public must be made to understand that, like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, the Affordable Care Act must be funded by everyone’s tax dollars or it cannot possibly work. It has been endorsed by doctors and insurance companies as the only system acceptable to them. Yet a large segment of the population behaves as if something better may come along.

There are snags aplenty to be worked out over time, but we have already experienced some of the benefits. Repealing the act or refusing to fund it, as the madcap Tea Party would have it (with nothing to put in its place), does not bode well for our nation.

LEE PAULSON, Glenwood, Minn.

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Our experience with the palliative approach

I was drawn to the Sept. 20 commentary by Kathy Butler regarding end-of-life counseling (“Why few of us get to die peacefully at home”). I was particularly affected by this description: “Palliative care focuses on alleviating suffering, improving quality of life and giving the entire family comfort, honest information and support, rather than avoiding tough conversations and continuing to try to fix the unfixable.” That is the support my daughter, Sue, and I recently received from the Palliative Care Team at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.

Sue and I were introduced to the concept of palliative care when my wife, Mary, unexpectedly became critically ill and passed away after a 30-day stay at Methodist Hospital. In the last few days of Mary’s life, Sue and I were visited by a team consisting of physicians, nurses and chaplains. They spent many hours over several days counseling us on her illness, prognosis and treatment options. They stressed the importance of having my wife participate, to the extent possible, in the decision regarding her final hours. With the help and encouragement of this incredible team, we were able to elicit Mary’s wishes, deal with our own personal doubts, and make important decisions with confidence and peace. The palliative team was present at her death and followed up with a sensitive, personalized note of sympathy to Mary’s family.

We will be forever grateful. The Palliative Care Team acted with sincere, loving compassion for Mary and her family and added true meaning to our lives.

KEN WOLF, Rosemount

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Our experience with finding right housing

Gail Rosenblum has it right in her Sept. 26 column. In housing people with disabilities, one size definitively does not fit all. I serve on the Arc Greater Twin Cities board and have an adult daughter with a developmental disability. Lacking housing options for her, my wife and I started a nonprofit and created a 33-unit condominium in Robbinsdale that is now owned and managed by Project for Pride in Living.

My daughter is a resident. Half the condo units are owned by families or trusts, and half are publicly funded and supported by Project-Based Section 8. All residents are people with disabilities, and PPL provides a modest level of service support. The project has worked for more than a decade.

The problem with the state’s “Olmstead Plan” is the rigid assumption that independent community living is the right option for all. It’s not. The real issue is the appalling lack of sufficient supportive affordable-housing options for people with disabilities with a variety of levels of support and independence. Failure to address this problem will simply mean that such people remain living at home with family, certainly not in the community as the Olmstead decision desires.

We created our project so that our daughter would have the most independent living arrangement she could manage. Olmstead would consider her living situation to be an institution. She would gladly tell you that’s simply nonsense.


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Editorial portrayed supporters unfairly

I attended the meeting that Karla Scapanski hosted in her home (“An alarming pitch for day care unions,” editorial, Sept. 24). Her analogy of the bear and skunks was clearly a message about collective action. Providers want to join together so they have a voice in the decisions that affect their jobs — they all agree that rules and regulations are necessary in the work they do. The three providers named in the editorial are passionate, caring women who love the children in their care. To suggest otherwise shows that you don’t know them.

The National Right to Work organization is the third party pitting provider against provider. It is preventing this group of predominately female workers from exercising their right to vote on the question of unionization. The 19th Amendment gave women the constitutional right to vote in 1920 — a right that some of our grandmothers and great-grandmother didn’t have. Why are a group of out-of-state attorneys trying to push back the hands of time? What are they afraid of?

Child-care providers deserve the right to vote!

BETH WALTERS, Sauk Rapids, Minn.