Talk of the town - Albuquerque Journal

Talk of the town

Many in NM benefit from Obamacare

I JUST FINISHED reading the letter submitted to the Journal by Patricia R. Evans (“Many in middle class don’t qualify for $75 ACA premiums,” May 20). Her letter was in response to a previous article titled “Report: Tax credits kept Obamacare premiums low.”

In her letter, she states the Journal might like to present both sides of the issue “by stating that not everyone can qualify for these $75/month plans instead of making it appear that everyone is benefiting from it.”

Earlier in her own letter, she quoted from the article that “50 percent of customers in New Mexico had the option of selecting a plan with a premium of $75 or less per month after the tax credit.” Stating the obvious, this clearly means that half of the customers in New Mexico would therefore be selecting a plan with a premium over $75 per month, therefore addressing her earlier objection.

Regarding the “failure of Obamacare,” she might like to check with all the New Mexicans who now have health insurance coverage who were previously declined by health insurance companies due to pre-existing conditions. She also might like to check with all the New Mexicans who had coverage run out due to exceeding benefit caps who no longer have to worry about this concern. She also might like to check with New Mexicans between the ages of 18-26 who can now continue to be covered under their parents’ policies rather than risk not having any health insurance coverage.

I doubt any of these New Mexicans are in any hurry to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

ALLAN BABER

Albuquerque

Managed care is a failed experiment

IN “TRIMMING waste best way to cut Medicaid costs” (May 19), Winthrop Quigley correctly cites spiraling costs driven by gross inefficiencies as the real problem in health care. However his analysis falls short of the managed care elephant in the exam room with myself and other providers.

In New Mexico, managed care organizations, such as Presbyterian and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, administer Medicaid insurance only after siphoning off profits and incurring overhead and administrative costs. In return, Medicaid recipients are forced into narrow networks that restrict choice of services and providers.

Stories of managed care exploiting illness for profits are heard around the country in states where traditional fee-for-service Medicaid programs have been converted into systems of competing private insurers.

These states, including New Mexico, were sold on the idea that managed care could save money and slow health care inflation. After years of exponential increases in spending, widespread abuse, fraud and diminishing public support for Medicaid managed care, perhaps New Mexico needs to re-evaluate the role of profit in public insurance.

The times are changing. Recently states such as Connecticut and Oklahoma have taken back their Medicaid programs and ended the role of private insurers. If New Mexico wants to get serious about trimming the waste in our Medicaid program let’s start with the failed managed care experiment.

DR. JAMES BESANTE

Belen

Water scarcity solutions may not exist

ELLEN MARKS’ STORY in your May 20 business section (“Town Hall advances ways NM can adapt”) begins with a paragraph about “Developing solutions to water scarcity and the effects of climate change …,” which sounds promising, but the rest of the story is about the other stated focus of the meeting: luring businesses here to make jobs. Except for one comment by a participant on how New Mexico is “getting drier,” that’s it for water scarcity solutions – maybe because there are no solutions, given that all the water in the Southwest is spoken for, often contentiously and by multiple claimants?

Talking about matching up new businesses with less educated local workers who nevertheless have usable skills ignores the major problem, real solutions to which are the necessary first step of any kind of development – except perhaps wind farms – here. People who mention “climate change” and “water scarcity” and then spend their time talking about jobs are either just plain blind to reality, or cynically blowing off the increasing desertification and population depletion due to shrinking water resources as somebody else’s problem – whose? That’s exactly what this meeting, and all the other bloviation about “job creation,” sounds like.

Then there’s a same-old, same-old column by (Philadelphia Inquirer columnist) Dan Kish about President Obama caving in to “the greens” by reversing approval of the Atlantic drilling plan. Kish clearly still doesn’t get it: Going green is the true conservatism, because it’s aimed at keeping the planet not just habitable but hospitable to human life – “conserving” it. Pushing fossil fuel exploitation, and vast profits for a few, of course, is stupidly short-sighted, deeply selfish and basically suicidal.

Yet the Journal publishes this crap and its ilk over and over. Welcome to the “Land of Disenchantment.”

SUZY CHARNAS

Albuquerque

Journal defense of arbitration is wrong

THE JOURNAL’S defense of the “fine print” arbitration clause is wrong (“Ditching arbitration clause won’t benefit consumers,” May 18), unless you are a corporate giant financial services company. The Journal editorial makes the claim that allowing customers to sue banks for grievances will just bring on a flurry of class action suits which do nothing but enrich lawyers.

To me, the real issue is that arbitration insulates the banks and financial companies – and any other company that uses it. Arbitration is generally not an “opt-in” or “opt-out” choice. You agree to arbitration or you don’t accept to the product or services. Arbitration ties the hands of the consumer since the vast majority of arbitration clauses allows the business to select the arbitrator or at least the arbitration company.

It is in the best interest of the consumer, regardless of the Journal’s opposition, to have available every means available that the consumer chooses to use for redress. The claim that allowing consumers to sue will be bad for the consumer is a fairy tale. Yes, a big bank, cellular company, or insurance company will always pass their losses on to consumers but that is a cost of doing business and a normal action and reaction to higher costs. For example, when the minimum wage goes up, so will the cost of the products on the store shelf.

The Journal’s defense of arbitration is weak at best and not in the best interest of the consumer – you and me.

JEFFREY PAUL

Albuquerque

Forcing your good idea on other people

IN HIS LETTER (May 17), Jeffrey Baker asked “Do Carol Wight, (CEO) of the New Mexico Restaurant Association, and Terri Cole, (CEO) of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, get sick leave at their jobs?” I have a question. Does Baker provide paid sick leave for the people he employs at his restaurant? Does he even own a restaurant? Did he try it for a month before telling us about the good idea he wants forced on other people? He didn’t say.

Be that as it may, he does point out what’s wrong with capitalism: there’s all this damn freedom. If people want to get things from each other, they have to do so by mutual voluntary agreement. That stinks! Al Capone got it right when he said “You can get a lot more with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone.

In a progressive society, you shouldn’t have to ask anyone for anything. He might say no. Instead, you should get the government to make him an offer he can’t refuse.

Be progressive. Forget about this “free country” nonsense. Do whatever it takes to get politicians to fix it so that your particular interest group benefits at the expense of the others. And, oh yeah, don’t forget to complain loudly that the system is rigged.

KEN TERRY

Albuquerque

Righting environmental injustice

DO COMMUNITIES have a right to have input into, and benefit from, fines levied on bad actors? That’s what’s at issue as the New Mexico Environment Department considers updates to their supplemental environmental project policy (“Revised air quality rules tied to environment,” May 14). (New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan) Flynn and the Albuquerque Journal seem to believe only polluting industries should have input. That’s the wrong choice for New Mexico.

Secretary Flynn is trying to gift wrap this for industry as an attempt to clean up supposed “project abuses” under his predecessor. There are several problems with that argument. First, (former Secretary) Ron Curry has been gone from NMED for almost seven years. If this problem needed fixing so badly, what took Flynn so long?

Secondly, the enforcement example Flynn uses – Helena Chemical’s Mesquite plant in southern Doña Ana County – ought to be a model for evenhanded enforcement leading to much-needed environmental attention and funding for an under-served community. Instead, the (Gov. Susana) Martinez administration has offered us little to no enforcement of clean air and water laws. And what enforcement there has been – such as the action taken against the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for the radioactive fire at that facility – has been toothless … .

Rather than playing the blame game long after the fact, I’d ask Flynn to take another look at under-served communities like Mesquite and others across New Mexico that could use more attention and clean-up action.

Let’s focus more on righting environmental injustice and less on political spin.

BEN SHELTON

Political and legislative director,

Conservative Voters New Mexico

Santa Fe

Police force staffing levels unsafe

THE ALBUQUERQUE Police Department’s staffing level is unsafe for both the public and the officers. Your story (“Analysis: APD may struggle to stay fully staffed,” May 18) regarding the analysis of APD’s staffing level and its finding that the APD may not be fully staffed for the next 10-15 years is totally unacceptable.

The low staffing level is directly responsible for the dangerous 11 minutes and 24 seconds response time for priority one calls. Can you imagine the fear going through the minds of a family when someone is breaking into their home in the middle of the night or a crazed gunman firing his weapon without regard for public safety. That 11 minutes and 24 seconds need to be cut down to about four minutes.

Mayor (Richard) Berry and the City Council must ensure a more rapid and vetted growth of the police department. The reported current level of 850 some officers allows for continued growth of criminal activity in a community our size. When I retired from the APD in 1999, our strength was at or over 1,000 officers. This translates into an actual reduction at the current time of 150 officers since 1999 and absolutely no growth in the APD for the past 16¼ years! APD should currently have about 1,450 officers to make Albuquerque a safe place. Several hundred new officers dispersed throughout Albuquerque on a 24-7 schedule only add a few officers to the area commands, investigations and other functions.

DAVID M. GILMORE

Albuquerque

Do what’s right and release wolves

I AM A resident of New Mexico, a mother of three and a registered nurse and I would like to respond to the article about the state of New Mexico, yet again, attempting to block wolf releases in NM, (“State seeking stop to release of wolves,” May 14) by Lauren Villagran. I cannot believe the lengths (the New Mexico Department of) Game and Fish will go to to ensure the extinction of this amazing animal.

It is pretty clear that the actions (of) Game and Fish are a postponing tactic and that they are trying to run out the clock on Mexican wolf recovery. It seems to me that before deciding to sue the feds and seeking a restraining order against releases, they should read the fine print of the Endangered Species Act. If they did, it would be evident that (U.S.) Fish and Wildlife Service is well within (its) legal rights and it would save everyone a lot of time and grief – particularly the poor Mexican wolf.

There are only 97 wolves in the wild and fewer than 50 in New Mexico, their genetics are tenuous at best, and the only remedy the feds have are more and immediate releases. (Gov.) Susana Martinez and her appointed state officials need to stop their good ol’ boy relations with the ranching industry and do what is right for Mexican wolves.

JENNIFER ROBINSON

Las Cruces

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