A Sept. 14 letter writer attempts to debunk the affordability of Medicare for all, but his methodology is risible. First, he multiplies the cost of treating the average person on Medicare by the total number of our population, but fails to account for the fact that treatment for the average Medicare patient is about 2½ times the average individual treatment cost for the youngest age group, 0 to 19. He also fails to account for the fact that taxes would increase (while individual health care premiums would disappear). And finally, the basic health care costs would decrease, because the nation would no longer be supporting the health insurance companies, with their high administrative costs. I am also hopeful that health care costs would naturally decrease because consolidation and its resulting monopolistic pricing would be irrelevant, since the system would set reimbursement rates, among other savings.

When I turned 65, I threw a big "Medicare party" for myself, and wrote this poem for the occasion:




Oh, what a thrill to reach an age

When one has wisdom, words of sage

Advice to others: just manage

To live this long — delightful stage.



For if you do, you’ll cease to care

If hips give out, and knee bones wear,

Or hearing goes, you’re thin of hair,

Relax — you’ll be on Medicare!



Oh joy! The medigap of it,

To revel in the lap of it,

This wondrous thing will care for me

From now until eternity.



Part A, Part B, what e’er they be,

I’ll sign up, and then will see

The magic of their coverage,

All organs and each appendage.



But wait, there’s more! Part D, you say?

What reason is there to delay

Extending this to everyone —

Not just the old, also the young?



The poor, the unemployed, the rest.

Why shouldn’t they all have the best?

Security from future ills,

The terror of those health care bills.



Oh, lucky me! But is it fair?

Why should I be on Medicare?

I did nothing right or wrong.

All I did was live this long.


Mary McLeod, St. Paul

• • •

The Sept. 14 letter omitted a huge piece of information: namely, the total dollar amount spent on health care in this country already. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services states on its website: “In 2015, U.S. health care spending increased 5.8 percent to reach $3.2 trillion, or $9,990 per person.” The estimate for 2016 is about $10,000 per person. This is all currently in addition to what is paid in taxes. I believe if you sweep up all this revenue into one pile and leverage the buying power it would have, you could make some very serious progress on bringing down prices.

Chris Cowen, St. Paul


Open-minded accounting is needed after a ‘never event’

Bob Kroll, we hear the anguish as you try to protect your officers. (“Police shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond: What Freeman said publicly compromises his integrity,” Opinion Exchange, Sept. 14.) I sympathize. But until we repair the distrust between the community and the Minneapolis Police Department, we are not going to be able to make anyone safer. As the leader of the police union, you need to lead and stop reacting like a victim.

Anytime either a citizen or an officer is shot during a police encounter, it is a “never event,” as it is referred to in the health care industry. When a “never event” occurs in a hospital setting, there is a thorough investigation as to what went wrong and recommendations are made to prevent future occurrences. It has to be open-minded and honest. That is how we have reduced errors in health care as well as in the transportation industry.

This is not what we do with police-involved shootings. The department goes into a defensive crouch, and nothing is ever learned, because no one can admit to a mistake.

Justine, Jamar and Philando should not have died. Mistakes were made, but we have learned nothing. Until we do, none of us is safe, including police officers. And that is a tragedy.

Alice Johnson, Minneapolis

• • •

I don’t think Kroll should lecture anyone, least of all Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, about fairness and justice after he launches his polemic with the “hard fact” that “[p]olice officers are being killed at an increasing rate.”

According to PolitiFact: “When we consider the percentage of officers [feloniously killed], the decline in anti-police violence is even more striking — from more than 30 deaths per 100,000 officers in the late 1970s, to around 17 in the 1980s, to about 6 or 7 now.”

When you start an argument with a whopper, subsequent positions are inevitably compromised, no matter how noble or justifiable. Let’s hope Freeman has a more intimate relationship with facts.

Donald Paul Smith, Bloomington


Apparent concern for Target, Best Buy doesn’t compute

Gov. Mark Dayton’s theory is that by not offering competitive incentives to Amazon, thereby discouraging moving Amazon’s headquarters to the Twin Cities, it will somehow protect Target and Best Buy. (The latest: “Risk seen in state’s Amazon strategy,” Sept. 14.) Or does he think we need to offer incentives to all companies just because we offer a sweet deal to Amazon? None of this makes sense, because Target and Best Buy do not compete for headquarters; they compete for sales, which will not depend on where Amazon’s headquarters reside. Anyway, Amazon has too much business sense to put its fate in the hands of the meddling, anti-business city councils of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Gary Qualley, Tonka Bay

• • •

Even though eight of Minnesota’s 17 Fortune 500 companies sell products on Amazon, Dayton singled out Target and Best Buy to allay concerns over the prospect of Amazon’s intrusion on the metro area. However, I don’t recall a hew and cry from the governor or other government officials when Amazon opened its 1-million-square-foot distribution center in Shakopee last year. A recent news story reported that the center employs 2,000 people and that it is looking to hire more. Entry-level jobs significantly exceed minimum wage and include benefits. Earlier this year, Amazon announced a search for an equally large space in the east metro for a second distribution center. Again, nary a negative word. Why is the possibility of a second Amazon headquarters more threatening than an Amazon distribution center? The governor’s action is especially puzzling because the state and its cities have routinely deployed tax incentives to lure companies to Minnesota. A case in point is another Target and Best Buy competitor, Walmart, in Mankato.

Sandra Nelson, Minneapolis