Health care reform is complicated, but the reason to worry about the Republican “repeal and replace” legislation is easy. Medicaid pays for long-term care of elderly Americans who run out of money. It goes to nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and sometimes pays for care at home. Medicare pays for almost no nursing home care, only for some short rehab stays. This difference is often misunderstood, so please pass it on: Medicare does not pay for long-term care.

The U.S. House bill will gut Medicaid funding, and the Senate bill will gut it further. These proposals take much more away from Medicaid than Obamacare added to it. This is the worst, meanest and sneakiest part of this legislation.

Except for the 1 percent, we will all have to (a) figure out (soon) who can quit work to care for parent(s) when their money is gone, and (b) figure out who can quit work later, to care for us when our money is gone, or (c) figure out how to set aside money to pay $6,000 to $10,000 per month ($72,000 to $120,000 per year) in today’s dollars for parent(s) and for us, for as long as we’ll need help to live with any dignity. Cutting Medicaid to fund tax cuts is repeal, replace and redistribution of wealth, pure and simple.

Catherine Lexau, St. Paul

• • •

Many goals of Obamacare have merit and bipartisan support, such as dealing, in some manner, with pre-existing conditions. It was the structure and implementation of the legislation that caused its failure. Regarding a solution, I believe part of our argument involves semantics. I suggest we acknowledge that “repeal and replace” and “fix” take us to a very similar place.

Here’s my layman’s understanding of the two competing solutions:

• Fix Obamacare: This implies that over the next (fill in the blank) months, each of the various elements of Obamacare, individually and in a logical order, would be changed and replaced with new provisions.

• Repeal and replace Obamacare: This implies that Obamacare would be officially repealed, but with provisions and timing fully planned for replacement. And then, over the next (fill in the blank) months, each of the various elements of the system, individually and in a logical order, would be changed and replaced with new provisions.

At the level of government and bureaucracy that would accomplish either of these, the tasks wouldn’t be identical, but probably remarkably similar.

We should reduce this inevitable “change” to its simplest elements, then proceed to get it done.

Steve Bakke, Edina

• • •

The bottom line in the ongoing health care debate can’t be argued; health insurance is not health care and does not guarantee health care to those in need. The debate needs to be focused on universal health care implementation. The Canadians do it at a cost of approximately $4,000 per capita. Spending more than $10,000 per capita, we should be able to provide universal health care of a superior quality. What’s the holdup? Time to put our collective genius to work

Pete Boelter, North Branch, Minn.


Permanent special prosecutor is the path to achieving justice

Let us set aside the result of the Philando Castile case (a horrible miscarriage of true justice) and instead look for a solution. There is an inherent conflict of interest when the county attorney is asked to prosecute a police officer of the force, which is considered part of the “prosecution team” in normal circumstances. The state should create the office of permanent special prosecutor (housed with the state attorney general) whose only job is to prosecute government officials and police. This way the conflict of interest is solved. This idea was floated by Bloomberg News back in 2014 after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were not even deemed worthy to warrant charges against police. What say you, Gov. Mark Dayton? Minnesota Legislature?

Lonni Skrentner, Edina


$15 an hour doesn’t seem like so much in certain contexts

The cover of the Minnesota section of today’s paper features the push for at $15 minimum wage. Page B2 has two relevant articles: First, the University of Minnesota is investigating a leak of confidential information regarding allegations of sexual harassment and is paying attorney fees of $475 an hour (less 10 percent) with two supervisors being paid $860 an hour. The other article mentions that taxpayers will cover legal fees of $506.25 and $325 an hour in the dispute between Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature. Does that make you wonder about a $15 an hour minimum wage?

Alan Sweet, Edina


There’s still this misconception that current teachers are poor

In her June 17 commentary “The barriers to good teachers removed,” Kathryn Green, a member of the Austin school board and president of the Minnesota School Boards Association, praises the legislative overhaul of the teacher licensure system. Whether or not the legislative “fix” is appropriate inspires argument from reasonable people on all sides of the issue. There have always been pathways for individuals who do not meet licensure requirements to begin teaching while they complete programs and for schools to employ such individuals when licensed teachers are not available, and many teachers and school districts have accessed those opportunities. But perhaps the system needed streamlining, and I have no quarrel with efforts to do that.

I do, however, find offensive, or at least over-generally derogatory, Ms. Green’s implication that “students suffer” when schools are required to hire qualified teachers rather than unqualified ones with no desire to become fully licensed. Assuming the students are not just wandering the hallways aimlessly, someone is teaching those students now! Apparently, according to Green, the students of Austin and elsewhere have suffered with current teachers (begging the question, “If they were inadequate, why were they rehired?”) and would be better served with those “great educators” who do not meet standards for full licensure. Were I a teacher or a citizen of the Austin schools, I would wonder which licensed teachers she is targeting as better-replaced by “alternative” hires or who deserves an apology for this implication that she and her administration were somehow stuck with us by a “broken” and “archaic” licensure system.

Mike Tillmann, Owatonna, Minn.

The writer is a retired teacher and former member of the Minnesota Board of Teaching.


Not so nice, so …

Regarding “Loss in Georgia shakes Dems” (June 22): I wish that someone would encourage U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar to sit down and make room for another Minnesotan to run for president. Sweet as she is, Minnesota Nice will not galvanize the party nor the country. Someone with charisma, directness, courage and humor could do it. Make way for Sen. Al Franken.

Ingrid Stocking, Minneapolis