MENTAL HEALTH PARITY

We must act now

The death of a woman with mental illness at Kings County Hospital in New York regrettably reflects the attitude of our society toward mental illness. After sitting in a waiting room for more than 20 hours, Esmin Green fell to the floor and laid there for an hour, ignored by others in the waiting room, by security guards and even by a physician.

What value did they place on her life?

When our society's laws and policies neglect the needs of people with mental illness, is it any wonder that individuals within our communities could neglect and ignore the needs of this woman?

While seemingly close, Congress has yet to pass a compromise bill on mental health parity. So people who have self-insured health plans continue to face discrimination in paying for treatment of mental illness. Their illness -- mental illness -- isn't worth treating.

The Senate failed to pass a Medicare reform bill that would have finally brought mental health parity to this program, paying for outpatient mental health treatment as it would for any other illness and covering medications used to treat mental illness. Their illness -- mental illness -- isn't worth treating.

While much has been done in Minnesota to increase access and quality to mental health services for both children and adults, we have a long way to go.

Until we ensure that there is access to effective treatment when and where needed, our work is not completed. And, until an unnecessary death of a person with mental illness caused by neglect and indifference causes a public outcry, we will have not attained equal standing.

SUE ABDERHOLDEN, ST. PAUL;

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NAMI MINNESOTA

Tale of two trades

Wild sells out fans

Minnesota Wild fans should be outraged that Brian Rolston (a fan favorite) was traded away by the Wild brain trust for a worthless draft pick. So much for trying to get the Wild past the first round of the playoffs this coming season.

The hockey fans of Minnesota have given the Wild not only one of the best hockey venues in the nation but also sold-out crowds game after game, and they have made Wild games the most sought-after and hottest hockey tickets in the nation.

Why should the sporting public give its loyalty, hard-earned money and subsidized tax breaks to wealthy sports franchise owners who time and again short-change fans in return?

CORBY PELTO, PLYMOUTH

Miller a great addition

As part of the trade that brought Kevin Love to Minnesota (in fact, it was actually the key to the trade), the Timberwolves acquired sharpshooter Mike Miller. Last season, he averaged 16 points a game, seven rebounds and three assists while shooting an absurd 50 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the three-point line.

Miller fills an immediate gap in our offense and adds a great deal of versatility to it as well.

There's really no downside to having Mike Miller on the team. He has stellar offensive abilities and meshes perfectly with the rest of the team. He has nine years of NBA experience and strong leadership skills. Mike's a South Dakota native with tons of friends and family here in the cities. He's happy to be here, and we should be happy to have him.

BRYAN ANDERSON, LAKEVILLE

MISERY INDEX

Most feel the pain

A headline in the June 28 Star Tribune asks, "Why are we so miserable?"

The article points out that the so-called "misery index" -- the sum of the inflation rate and the unemployment rate -- is at historically low levels, yet consumer confidence is plunging. This seems to flummox your reporter.

However, the cause of such insecurity is not hard to see. Americans are so deep in debt that the country has a negative savings rate -- the total of our debt is greater than the total our savings for the first time. And more and more people are also without health insurance, while many others have very poor health insurance. Many household budgets are already at the breaking point.

Now add a job loss or a doubling of energy costs, and the "misery index" does not begin to describe the actual misery out there.

The debt crisis and the health insurance crisis seem to be invisible to the big shots and the fat cats. But they are not invisible to the American middle and working classes.

ELIZABETH J. HINDS, MORRIS, MINN.

George Carlin

A coarser society

I read the June 30 editorial relating to the passing of George Carlin -- "Look how far we've come."

Today we can be bombarded with George's "seven words you can't say on TV" daily, hourly and on all forms of media. As to Lenny Bruce, he could say whatever he wanted and he wouldn't get arrested. The way things are today, he may not get arrested, but he could get shot!

Considering the toilet talk on TV, radio, music, print and now with the conjunctive language of text messaging, it's amazing we can communicate at all. Language is one of the major tools we have to get along in a not-so-civilized world and look what we've done to it -- but that's OK it's cool!

DICK MARKGRAF, ST. LOUIS PARK