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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Medicaid is a lifeline for poor, vulnerable

At Jericho Road Family Practice, 70 percent of the patients we see have Medicaid insurance. Many are single moms with children, new refugees or are people who have a job but would be unable to afford basic health care were it not for Medicaid. Every day we see people who are in tremendous need and for whom it is a cause for celebration when they finally qualify for Medicaid and can access the health care system.

For our county executive to say that "all families can afford to pay for eye care" and to threaten to no longer cover basic health services such as dental care and eye care is just wrong and shortsighted. The people we see every day desperately need Medicaid. To deny access to basic dental care will only increase the number of people who end up in the emergency room and hospital with severe dental complications, and this will cost us more.

Medicaid is not a "Cadillac" system that is sucking the life out of New York State taxpayers, but rather it is a desperately needed lifeline for the most poor and vulnerable among us. Surely we as a society should be willing to mutually sacrifice so that those who need it most can access medical and dental services.

If Collins thinks that Medicaid is a "Cadillac" system, I challenge him to give up his own private health insurance policy and trade it in for Medicaid. Let him sit in crowded hospital-run clinics for four hours waiting to see a doctor in training. Let him try to find a medical specialist or a dentist who will accept his Medicaid insurance.

Yes, the cost of Medicaid is high. Health care is expensive. Major reform is desperately needed. But any reform needs to first consider the most vulnerable and poor among us.

Myron Glick, M.D.

Jericho Road Family Practice

Buffalo

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Most Medicaid recipients cannot afford eye glasses

Perhaps our esteemed county executive needs new glasses. We know he can afford them. It appears his vision is so focused on re-election that he turns a blind eye to the many low-income, Medicaid recipients of Erie County. You know, the ones driving around in their "Cadillacs."

A single person on public assistance receives approximately $380 a month. That cash grant is meant to cover housing, utilities, clothing, transportation, along with personal items, like toiletries, not covered by food stamps. Not a king's ransom to say the least.

We must assume Chris Collins knows some great, cut-rate optometrists and dentists; ones whose fees could be covered by all that money left over from the public assistance grant, after rent, gas, electric, clothing, bus fare, etc.

Maureen E. Brinkworth

Tonawanda

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County executive needs to get off his high horse

It is with increasing displeasure that I read, almost daily, another statement or quote from our county executive about "we the people." Chris Collins is probably the most disconnected "public servant" I have ever heard, and I'm in my late 60s.

His latest statement about Medicaid families needing to prioritize on the need for glasses is absolutely disgusting to anyone who has to live in the real world. Obviously, Collins has never had to make the choice between seeing and eating. I can assure him that there are plenty of families who can't provide glasses.

My husband worked more than 30 years in industry only to have his promised retirement benefits reduced, forcing him and many others to work at other jobs into his 70s. He is blessed to have any opportunity to remain employed, but many others are less fortunate and cannot manage the co-pays. I wonder if the millions in the county surplus will magically show up around election time?

I live in Clarence as does Collins, however, I don't wear a multiple caret diamond or live in a huge home. It would do the county executive a world of good to come down off his high perch and walk a few miles in the shoes of the majority of the people he supposedly serves.

Cathleen Meyers

Clarence Center

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Medicaid is providing essential health care

County Executive Chris Collins' comments on "Cadillac coverage" make me think of wheels. As a physical therapist who has treated patients insured by Medicaid, the only wheels many of them have are the ones attached to the chairs they are confined to. Where are we going?

Bart Horrigan, D.P.T.

Buffalo

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How can NRA advocate such volatile weapons?

As we mourn the terrible shootings in Arizona, some issues arise. The gun used in this massacre was a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol with a magazine that shoots 33 rounds. This weapon, banned until recently, is now readily available at your local gun shop.

The National Rifle Association took as its earliest principles gun safety and environmental issues important to hunters. The organization has wandered far from its founding traditions. Today it advocates ever more volatile weapons ever more widely distributed. The premise that any weapon banned anywhere inevitability leads to the federal government swooping down on the family farm to grab hunting rifles is absurd. This has never happened in our 225-year history and there is no reason to think it will happen now. I think NRA members should give some thought to the direction their leadership is taking them.

We are the only country in Western civilization that advocates increasingly volatile political dialogue along with an increased availability of deadly weapons, ready to be used by anyone unstable. Then, when the terrible event happens, as in Arizona, we are horrified. Yet nothing changes, as we wait for the next event.

Carl Jacobs

Tonawanda

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It's time to reinstate assault weapons ban

Sarah Palin's poorly chosen gun-related metaphor was not the cause of the Tucson tragedy. A seemingly deranged man was just partially responsible.

Some of the victims would not have been shot at all if the Democrat-passed ammunition-load-limiting part of the assault weapons ban had still been in effect. The administration of President George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress ignored the will of the general public by quietly letting that law sunset. The campaign contributions (bribes) and votes from the National Rifle Association members and gun manufacturers were more personally beneficial. They made the gun store sale of that non-sportsman-like killing machine perfectly legal.

Bush, that Republican Congress and the lobbyists have at least half of the blood on their hands. The original assault weapons ban should be quickly reinstated.

Charles W. Lewis

Buffalo

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It's unlikely that rhetoric played no role in shooting

There has been a tendency to attribute the shooting in Tucson solely to the apparently mentally unbalanced state of the alleged perpetrator, and many who affiliate with right-wing political viewpoints have protested vigorously against the notion that some of their rhetoric may have played a contributory role. Yet even apparently mentally unbalanced people live in a larger context in which they are as likely as anyone else to absorb the general tenor of public discourse.

So when right-wing politicians refer to "Second Amendment remedies" to policies they don't like, or have political rallies in which firing automatic weapons is a scheduled part of the proceedings, or repeatedly use insurrectionist imagery and analogies in their public statements, it strains credulity to think that these actions have no potential whatsoever to influence the perspectives and in some cases the actions of mentally unbalanced individuals. Even if it turns out that the Tucson shooter had no specific political orientation in mind when carrying out the heinous massacre, it seems quite unlikely that his actions were in no way influenced by the vitriol and violent imagery that currently infect our political dialogue.

Some have pointed out that liberals or left wingers also engage in hostile political invective. While this is undoubtedly true, it is also true that there is a qualitative difference between expressing strong distaste for a politician, party or policy versus incorporating violent imagery and statements suggestive of violence in denouncing one's political opponents, something that the political right wing currently does far more than the left wing. When we attempt to ignore or paper over this distinction, we raise the risk of encouraging additional violent acts in our country's political arena.

Daniel H. Trigoboff

Amherst

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There is no excuse for hateful rhetoric

I am writing in response to the article found in The News on Jan. 12, "57% in poll don't link harsh words, rampage." I fail to see the relevance of why it matters whether Americans attribute the recent Arizona shooting rampage with political rhetoric. Does this now mean that because a majority of Americans polled don't attribute the harsh words with the shootings that we should put this matter behind us, or that Sarah Palin should be excused for her hateful rhetoric?

Or was this article's only purpose meant as more fodder for the growing debate? At what point will people in the national media start accepting responsibility for their actions and words? Palin thought it a good idea back in September to target a number of House Democrats who had voted for President Obama's health care bill, with cross hairs over those districts, saying, "We've diagnosed the problem. Help us prescribe the solution." I am confused as to how Palin and company can attempt to distance themselves from this horrific incident, claiming they are victims of the liberal media.

At what point did this country become so intolerable of people with opposing views that political figures felt the need to start resorting to violent and hateful measures? Where has my country gone? What kind of America is this that I must now raise my child in? Hate has no place in my America. Americans must start asking themselves if it belongs in theirs.

David Mangan

Boston

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Gardens chief should have horticultural experience

On Jan. 14, The News printed an article titled, "Swarts to direct Gardens." I just couldn't comprehend what I read. It stated that "another political figure has been named to lead the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens." He is the fifth person to be named to this position in the past six years and, like all but one, he has absolutely no horticultural experience!

Mary Ann Kreese, chairwoman of the Botanical Gardens, stated, "the search for this position was limited to Western New York applicants." Oh, by the way, this position pays $89,000 annually. Are you kidding me? There are probably thousands of people who are qualified, not only in this area but across the country. These people would not only relocate here for this position but would probably accept half of that salary. It just goes to show the good-old-boys club is doing well.

Tom Ford

Derby

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We must strictly limit tobacco ads in stores

Our kids are more than ever influenced by marketing and at a younger age. A "must have" material or consumable item such as a specific style or brand name of shoes, T-shirt, hat, soft drink or cigarettes. Yes, cigarettes.

The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars to market its deadly products in our stores, including paying retailers to prominently display tobacco products, in-store advertising, price discounts and other in-store promotions. Exposure to tobacco marketing in stores is a primary cause of youth smoking. Every day, our kids are exposed to a tremendous amount of tobacco marketing in our grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies. To protect our kids, we must reduce youth exposure to in-store tobacco marketing.

Nicole Bycina

West Seneca

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