Letters to the Editor — June 16, 2017

Reader pushes for bicycle safety


I am writing to urge all bicyclists and pedestrians to follow the rules of the road when out and about this summer.

A bicycle is a vehicle, like all other vehicles on the road. You wouldn’t drive your car on the sidewalk, so please, don’t ride your bicycle on the sidewalk. You wouldn’t drive your car through a red light, so please, don’t ride your bicycle through a red light. The laws of the road apply to bicycles as well as motor vehicles. (Also, for your own safety, please wear a helmet, especially when riding along Route 1.)

When pedestrians walk on the wrong side of the road/street, they cannot see oncoming traffic. Also, they may force bicyclists to veer out into traffic, which is dangerous for all parties —drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike. Please walk facing traffic, and if you’re in a group, please don’t spill over into the traffic lane but stay on the sidewalk or shoulder of the road.

Please remind your guests about these safety rules, too. Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than an accident.

Anthony Chiffolo

Bethany Beach

Reader praises pharmacy employees


In April 2017, I had eye surgery, and three different kinds of drops were prescribed by the doctor. I used the last of one of the drops late on Sunday, May 28. I called Walgreens in Bethany — my normal supplier of medications — for a refill, but their pharmacy was closed and would not reopen until Tuesday, due to the Memorial Day holiday.

On Memorial Day, I called Walgreens at Hocker’s in Clarksville. They were open but did not have the specific drops I needed. The pharmacist, Shelly Pszczola, suggested calling either Rite Aid in Millville or Walgreens in Lewes to see if they had the medication I needed. She told me, if Rite Aid had the needed drops, she would send them the prescription electronically so they could fill it.

Rite Aid had the correct drops; they contacted Shelly at Walgreens, and she forwarded my prescription to them. About 30 minutes later, I received a call from Rite Aid, indicating my drops were ready. When I got to Rite Aid, the pharmacist, Priyank Patel, and his tech, Laverne Buteas, contacted my insurance company for approval.

My claim was rejected by the insurance company due to confusion on their part. Priyank and Laverne called Walgreens for information and then called the insurance company back to explain what had happened. Finally, the insurance company recognized the error and authorized the transaction.

I was amazed and so impressed that Priyank and Laverne and Shelly went so far out of their way for a customer they had never seen before. It would have been so easy to dismiss me and merely tell me the insurance company had rejected my claim, but they fought for this guy they had never met. They went way beyond the pale, and I am deeply grateful to them. Both Rite Aid and Walgreens have some exceptional employees, and I hope these three receive recognition in some substantial way from their employer.

Dick Fox

Bethany Beach

Reader offers ideas on improving healthcare


What do the following countries have in common? Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Sweden, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Bahrain, Brunei, The Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Denmark, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Korea, Iceland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland and Israel.

All have universal healthcare provided by their respective governments.

Why can’t America provide such coverage to their citizens?

The short answer is lobbyists and insurance industries and other health care providers’ largesse to our elected officials, which prevents them from acting in the best interest of their constituents. They are more focused on getting reelected and lining their pockets.

When Trump gathered his minions on the White House lawn to celebrate the House version of his AHCA, I was bewildered by such a display of showmanship. It was unfathomable to witness these people gloating over something so distasteful.

This Republican version of the ACA erases the gains and the amount of people covered. To add insult to injury, the bill penalizes the elderly and the poor, giving them the option of paying more for less coverage. As Rep. Jason Chaffetz put it — Americans have choices. And they have got to make a choice. So maybe, instead of getting a new iPhone that they love, which costs hundreds of dollars, maybe they should invest in their own health care.

The U.S. is home to some of the world’s best medical schools, doctors, research institutes and hospitals, and if you have the resources for the coverage and procedures you want, you can absolutely get quality care. However, this system guarantees vast inequalities in the delivery of care, based on where you live.

The Republican notion of freedom requires time and energy, not just money, to figure the best coverage and treatment, with confusing plans, exorbitant premiums and deductibles and exclusive networks. The special-interest groups made up by employers, insurers, doctors and pharmaceutical companies decide which plans are available, what they cover, which doctors patients can see and, lastly, how much it will cost.

What happens to those people who don’t earn enough to afford the premiums or life-saving treatment?

Practically every wealthy capitalistic democracy in the world has decided that some form of government-managed universal health care is the most sensible and effective option.

According to the latest report of the OECD, the U.S., as a whole, does not outshine other countries in the quality of care. The U.S. has shorter life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates and fewer doctors per capita than most developed countries.

There are many ways of giving people choice and excellent care under government management. Many countries require employers and employees to contribute to the healthcare system through payroll taxes. This system ensures that … the government works on behalf of its citizens by negotiating the cost of delivery with providers and pharmaceutical companies, etc. — which has led to lower drug prices.

The FDA could speed up new drug applications with a Consumer Reports approach; issue a rating of the drug’s safety, efficacy and the degree of evidence. Increase drug-makers’ competition on the degree of evidence supporting their drugs, not just safety and efficacy. Help physicians make better decisions; electronic medical records could match a given patient to the corresponding FDA. ratings. Providers need transparent and readily available information on quality and cost to improve treatment.

Hospitalists should seek information quality that not only focuses on process and outcome measures — achieving functional status, shortening recovery time and sustaining recovery for as long as possible. Reimbursements for services should reflect the actual cost of the service and should be bundled. Some large employers are contracting with high-volume hospitals to perform semi-elective procedures.

Care should be integrated into a smaller number of large delivery systems, instead of a large number of small do-it-all systems. The more complicated, complex care should be delivered in tertiary care centers. Integrated systems can direct the right patients to the right locations, to enhance quality and cost.

Lastly, health care systems need to focus patients on getting the right care in the right location and the need for them to be less concerned about geography. Proximity to home is less important than good value of care, and health care systems are better served when patients are steered to the best delivery site.

Until the people demand to change the focus of our outdated system, we will continue to not only pay more, but get poorer results!

Valerie Reeves

Ocean View reader appeals for net neutrality


Under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), U.S. citizens have “net neutrality,” the right to access and communicate over the internet without interference or addition fees from our internet service providers (ISPs).

If President Trump’s new Chairman Ajit Pai of the FCC, a former Verizon lawyer, and Comcast, Verizon, etc., get their way, this could end shortly. This would adversely impact our small businesses and all manner of communications, including critical information about legislation, safety, health and so forth. Online freedom of speech and doing business would be controlled by the ISPs.

A comment period to the FCC which just closed was inundated with opposition to net neutrality from dead people and people whose e-mail addresses had been co-opted. Yet Chairman Ajit Pai says he will include them all in their decision process.

We need to tell our members of Congress to save net neutrality. We need to tell family and friends who live in other states about this so they have the opportunity to contact their members of Congress.

It is now or never.

Patricia M. Williams