Thank you for the March 3 article “Patients pay price of drug roulette” (3/3/19). I, too, am in an extended fight with my insurance company over whether or not to continue coverage of medication that has kept me healthy for nearly four years.
Without proper medications, I suffer from chronic anxiety and depression. If I am forced to switch drugs, it will disrupt at least two months of my life, likely much longer. Transitioning off one medication cocktail to another would force another battle with deep depression and near-constant fear, to say nothing of the physical pain these twin demons force upon me. And don’t get me started with the cost-benefit analysis of what side effects I would find acceptable to live with taking new medications.
Why does my insurance get to change the goalposts of what’s covered and what’s not, rather than leaving such a decision to me, my doctor and my therapist?
Michael Dahl, St. Paul
WOMEN AND AGING
The so-called ‘truth’ about menopause belly
What a disappointment. (“The truth about ‘menopause belly,’ ” March 3.) The message throughout trumpeted the idea that a natural progression that happens to most women’s body is wrong and should be battled at all costs.
Why? If our bodies naturally change this way, then why should we be fighting to have some ideal shape that is dictated by fashion magazines and Hollywood?
There was little in here about a healthy or fit lifestyle. It was about image: “Your body is, in effect, working against you” and “This stuff can be hard to fight.” Only at the end was there one line about maintaining overall health. Shouldn’t this have been the message throughout?
Maybe the reason “menopause belly” is bothersome is that articles like this keep telling women that their natural bodies are wrong.
Amy Simso Dean, Minneapolis
‘DYING OF WHITENESS’ REVIEW
Bigotry (not the kind your mind leaps to) turns up on the book page
Joseph P. Williams, in his March 3 review of the book “Dying of Whiteness,” makes some outrageous, highly objectionable and unsupportable comments. He says: “White people will kill to protect their position atop the social order, especially if they feel threatened by people who aren’t white.” That is an extremely prejudiced opinion. Every race has murderers, but to claim that the entire race is a race of murderers is a lie. If the same comment were made about black people, it would instantly be recognized as racist and would not be printed in any newspaper.
Williams also claims that the intended effects of the conservative policies discussed in the book were: “punishing and endangering the health of poor minorities, choking off taxpayer-funded institutions that help them and helping to calcify institutional racism … .” There are intelligent and well-intentioned people who support conservative policies, just as there are intelligent and well-intentioned people who support progressive policies. To state that conservative policies are intended to hurt minorities and support systemic racism is ignorant and bigoted, and it serves only to further alienate people from one another. Surely, the Star Tribune can find other, less-bigoted writers to review books.
James Brandt, New Brighton
SAFETY OF ANESTHESIA
A sound understanding of risk doesn’t match article’s approach
Once again the media exaggerates and promotes fear (“Deeper insight of anesthesia,” Science+Health, March 3). “As many as 30 percent of patients who undergo open-heart surgery develop an acute kidney injury that increases their risk of chronic kidney disease and death said researcher Yugeesh Lankadeva.” Whenever one states a statistic with “as many as” or “as much as,” it misinforms the reader entirely, since most people do not understand the value stated is the largest value in the data set. Far more important and responsible is to state the average or median value. It is the same as the weatherperson stating that we received as much as 5 feet of snow this past weekend by measuring a deep drift. With the wide concern regarding fake news, I see it as unethical to spread misinformation such as this.
Dale K. Mize, Plymouth
Fairness? That’s a fair question. Does Minnesota meet the goal?
Lee Schafer’s March 3 column “Avoiding taxes might make sense, but is it fair?” raises an important point: To what extent should we go to legally avoid taxes — almost always to the detriment of government — in favor of family? Paraphrasing Mr. Schafer, “How do you balance this?” I believe that part of the answer lies in the perceived fairness of income taxes and estate taxes.
Moderately wealthy retired couples moving to Florida to avoid both state income taxes and estate taxes are often mentioned in the course of political debate about Minnesota state taxes. What is missing from the debate is how the estate tax and income tax interact. Consider this example: When inventoried, all estate assets are treated as equal. Thus, for estate tax purposes, the value of a $1 million tax-free Roth retirement account is treated the same as a million-dollar taxable IRA. For many middle-class couples, the withdrawal of the IRA funds would be taxed federally at 22 percent and taxed by Minnesota at about 8 percent. So the million-dollar IRA is only worth $700,000 to the taxpayer. But that full $1 million IRA may be taxed at 13 percent for Minnesota estate tax purposes.
The resulting double taxation raises the question of fairness, which, by definition, is a perceived value. So at the same time you ask yourself if Florida’s overall tax system seems fair, ask yourself about Minnesota’s as well.
Thomas L. Romens, St. Paul
When politics runs the show
What have we learned: That the Fillmore County Board had little or no understanding of the dangers of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and the need to control it, not only for the health of the state’s whitetail deer population, but the health and well-being of the good people of the county, who hunt and harvest the same deer. By resisting the use of federal sharpshooters to cull a diseased deer population that resides in proximity to the Preston, Minn., cemetery, the board was in effect promoting the disease.
Mind you, CWD is a prion-related disease — i.e., a folded, distorted protein. Have we known other prion diseases? Mad cow disease and the ravage it inflicted on England in the 1980s comes to mind. This issue has nothing to do with the sanctity of cemeteries, and everything to do with county politicians trying to show the state who’s in charge of Fillmore County, no matter what the cost.
Mark Palas, St. Paul
Opinion editor’s note: The Fillmore County Board subsequently reversed itself on March 5, allowing federal sharpshooters to harvest deer in a chronic wasting disease hot spot on public land.