Although I foresee an eventual single-payer health care plan in the U.S. as experienced by all other developed countries, I believe the “Medicare for All” advocated by U.S. Rep Keith Ellison and others is politically unrealistic and unfeasible now (“ ‘Medicare for All’ threatens to split Dems,” July 30).

However, if the plan has cost-effective components and is implemented initially only for the uninsured, a creatively modified Medicare plan is the nonpartisan, cost-effective solution that could replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Medicare is the most popular health insurance program and has low administrative costs. It could pool all uninsured people to spread the risk, which is the basis of insurance. Uninsured people would buy into Medicare on an ability to pay, and it eventually could phase in all individuals currently on various governmental health insurance programs. Cost-effective measures need to be included, such as eliminating drug-price gouging, focusing upon and rewarding quality outcomes, and increasing the number of physician assistants and nurse practitioners for less serious issues.

Nationwide divisiveness over this issue would subside with a healthier country and reduced costs.

Sheldon Olkon, Golden Valley

The writer is a retired health and social services administrator.

• • •

I am a progressive Democrat and will continue to support Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison. But they are wrong to make Medicare for All a litmus test for the party, especially just before the upcoming election. It gives Republicans easy lines of attack (socialism, huge tax increase, take away employees’ plans, etc.) when they should be put on the defensive. Democrats should be attacking Republicans for the many ways they have undermined the Affordable Care Act, threatening everyone’s protections from pre-existing condition exclusions and rising premiums. And Democrats should propose restoring those protections rather than splitting the party by pushing Medicare for All now. Democrats won’t have anything worth fighting over if they lose the election.

Bruce Kelley, Minneapolis


Former governor’s campaign tactics show us who he is

Dumbfounded and empathetic, I watch former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s recent attack ads in his campaign this year against Jeff Johnson, the Republican-endorsed candidate for governor. The cartoons are cruel. The facts are fabricated. This is how you treat your own people? Who’s funding these attacks?

Recently I received a mailing from Pawlenty: “It’s time to stop hiding behind political correctness and …” (fill in the blank with anything implying we should all be afraid). The photo shows him surrounded by police officers who will protect us from the immigrants.

It wasn’t enough Pawlenty slashed funding for the mentally ill to side with the rich Taxpayers League? Following Pawlenty’s 2003 knife fight with the budget, my schizophrenic brother was moved from a well-lit care facility with one roommate to a dingy dark room with four other men. Pawlenty’s policies put a sick man with four voices in his head into a cramped nursing-home room with four others. My brother’s health failed, he lost his spirit and was dead within two sad years.

It wasn’t enough Pawlenty ravaged funding from one of Minnesota’s greatest assets, our land-grant University of Minnesota system? Tuition skyrocketed. In addition to my regular job and the savings I was fortunate to have stored, I needed to take on seven semesters as an adjunct lecturer to keep up with tuition increases for my son. Pawlenty is for the middle class? Nah — not really. Average families won’t have a shot at a college degree if he goes to war with higher education again.

Pawlenty was mean and he’s come back meaner. We don’t need mean in Minnesota.

Sue Strom, Plymouth


Coulda. Shoulda. Didn’t.

Reading the July 31 letters about the Nicollet Mall makeover, I was just then made aware of Rick Nelson’s recent critique (“Nicollet Meh,” Variety, July 28). I would echo the sentiments I’ve read. Having visited other cities and seeing their urban architecture, Nicollet Mall pales in comparison. Take a look at Chattanooga, for example. Or St. Louis’ City Garden and Kiener Plaza, which were my vision of what Nicollet could have been. But, concrete notwithstanding, the greatest failing is the inclusion of wheeled vehicles on the mall. The sidewalk cafes are nice, but sitting within a few feet of a city bus, air brakes popping in your ear, makes lunch a race to get up and leave.

But we fought that battle and lost. Nope, half a loaf. Nice try. Maybe next time.

Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park

• • •

I found myself nodding in agreement with many of Nelson’s points, but I’m not sure he goes far enough in recommending solutions. I would propose the following steps to improve the Nicollet Mall experience — and because we know that budget restrictions were the principal driver of an underwhelming outcome, I have ensured that these ideas require no further major capital investments, only changes to policy and some thoughtful planning.

1)Immediately ban smoking on the mall. I won’t even get into the positive public health benefits. I also won’t talk about how for nonsmokers, there’s nothing worse than getting a colossal blast of smoke from someone walking in front of you. This one is actually simple: It’s inevitable that more public spaces will become nonsmoking, so let’s be proactive. Minneapolis parks went nonsmoking in May 2017. Let’s be a national leader in eliminating smoking from more public spaces. I would also submit that this change is necessary in the battle between skyways and surface streets for foot traffic. We should be thinking about what makes skyways appealing to pedestrians and bring those elements to the street, nonsmoking policy included.

2) Phase bus traffic back to Hennepin, Marquette and 2nd avenues. Somehow we all got by for more than two years without Nicollet as a route option, including me as I caught my route on Marquette. If there is a reason that bus traffic needed to return to Nicollet this winter, OK, but the city should hear its residents and workers and deliver a plan to eliminate bus traffic from Nicollet in the next one to two years if that is what a majority of voices are asking for.

3) Get seriously creative with events. We have outstanding music, food and culture in this city. Our Music and Movies in the Parks program every summer is a model for any major city in the U.S. to look up to. Leverage that idea for Nicollet Mall throughout the summer, and even winter. Additionally, plan pop-up art installations, regular concerts by local musicians, food-truck Fridays (after the bus traffic is gone), Open Streets events for bicyclers and pedestrians, and community gardens with flowers and produce then sold on Thursdays during the farmers market. The possibilities are endless.

I encourage the city to explore any and all of these options to show that they are listening to their constituents. And to put my money where my mouth is, if they need any volunteers to help ideate, plan or execute, I will be the first in line.

Michael Dixon, Minneapolis


Sayonara, season

It is very disappointing the Twins in 2018 went against the wishes of players and fans and decided the season is lost, trading away key components. The 2006 Twins came back from a deficit similar to the one existing now, at the end of July, and they made up that ground all in September to win the division.

Both Twins team members and Twins followers have loudly proclaimed a desire to stay the course. In my opinion, all they needed to beat Cleveland is a healthy Buxton and Sano and one more reliever, and it is indeed a pity that Twins executives got cold feet.

Frederic J. Anderson, Minneapolis