We are all horrified with the suffering brought on by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
What I’d like to address is the similar stuff happening a little north in Ukraine. The war was started by one man, Vladimir Putin, resulting in widespread suffering to innocent civilians in their homes, schools and hospitals.
Sanctions and military support in Ukraine have been positive responses, but woefully inadequate. I’d like to see our government and intelligence officials consider how they can up the pressure on those at the top of Russia’s government.
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What if we tell them: When you perform an internationally-recognized illegal act like missile strikes or bombings of civilian targets, we are going to respond by taking action against your personal homes, garages, cars, dachas, personal jets or yachts. Targets would include Putin for sure, but also his supportive oligarchs. Any such measures should not harm the Russian people at large, but be very targeted. The United Nations should be discussing what can be done against rogue heads of states, beyond sanctions.
And anybody who thinks we should reduce our support for Ukraine and democracy should have their head examined.
George F. Rotter, La Grange
Protect traditional Medicare from direct contracting
In 2020, the Trump administration launched a new direct contracting program designed to privatize traditional Medicare. The Biden administration has continued the program but renamed it REACH.
REACHhas moved millions of traditional Medicare beneficiaries into for-profit plans run by third-party middlemen called direct contracting entities, without enrollees’ full knowledge or consent. It is a stealth effort by Wall Street investors to privatize Medicare — and is an egregious transfer of public and beneficiary dollars into private hands.
DCEs have a financial incentive to interfere with care decisions when compared with the efficiency of traditional Medicare. Instead of paying doctors and hospitals directly, Medicare gives these third-party middlemen a monthly payment to cover some or all of each senior’s medical expenses — allowing these companies to keep as profit what they don’t spend on care. Any type of company can apply to be a DCE without oversight from Congress.
Traditional Medicare is based on fee-for-service and pays doctors according to the procedures used to treat a patient. Capitation (when doctors are paid a set amount for each patient they see) establishes dangerous financial incentives to restrict the care of our elders. While traditional Medicare spends an impressive 98% of its budget on patient care, DCEs spend only 60% of our tax dollars on patient care.
Both Republicans and Democrats collect significant campaign donations and are subject to intense lobbying from both the health care and insurance industries. If left unchecked, Medicare direct contracting could radically transform Medicare in a few years. Medicare direct contracting is in its infancy. Please contact your representatives to fight this threat to Medicare before it grows.
Donna Limper. Bloomingdale