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Everybody's Column / Letters from Our Readers

Independent Health dedicates itself to top-quality service

Independent Health was named a distinguished health plan by J.D. Power and Associates for providing an outstanding member experience, and our physician programs are recognized nationally as innovative solutions that improve the quality of care.

In addition, Independent Health is the only health plan in the country to be ranked in the Top 10 for commercial, Medicare and Medicaid plans, according to the Oct. 25, 2005, issue of U.S. News and World Report.

Yet, according to an out-of-town consultant, we were grouped alongside area health plans as "average to good" in the 2006 Prospectus article on health insurance. Puzzling? To say the least.

The U.S. News and World Report recognition is the Super Bowl of health awards because it represents the most significant, comprehensive information for consumers. Combined measurements of quality of care and customer satisfaction determine these rankings, and represent the most objective and reliable industry data for assessing value that health plans provide for members.

Independent Health employees are passionate and committed to improving the health and well-being of this region. This passion drives our company, and is what allows us to deliver service that, in Western New York, is without peer.

Michael W. Cropp, M.D.
President & CEO, Independent Health


>News editorial erred in criticizing UB faculty

I am compelled to correct serious erroneous statements made by The News in a Feb. 5 editorial about former academic administrators who continue to serve the University at Buffalo with distinction and who collectively make significant contributions to UB and to the larger community.

I want to state unequivocally that these valued faculty members are not "basically in retirement" as the editorial claimed. These distinguished faculty members continue to provide invaluable service to UB as leading scholars, teachers and mentors. They were not rewarded with faculty positions because they stepped down as administrators; they returned to the faculty positions to which they were appointed prior to their administrative service. For The News to suggest they be removed is misinformed and irresponsible.

The News has done a major public disservice to a group of outstanding faculty members by creating unwarranted suspicions about their ongoing contributions to UB, both individually and collectively. I want to assure taxpayers that these individuals are actively engaged at UB and that the university is committed to transparent and responsible stewardship of all of its resources.

John B. Simpson
President, University at Buffalo


>Medicaid, fuel costs becoming unbearable

We recently received our county and town taxes for 2006 and were shocked. Our state-mandated Medicaid tax amount increased 22 percent, to well over $1,000. Medicaid has sent our tax amount to an unacceptable level. When is it going to stop? I reviewed further the tax accumulation and this bill includes everything from water to general alarm. I don't even want to mention the school tax amount. What can we do to change this situation?

Then my son received his fuel bill, which was estimated. His bill was almost $900 for a small apartment. He is just out of college and on a fixed income, and he was shocked. He went directly to the main office with his reading from the meter and, guess what, the adjustment lowered his bill to $450. Just a bit of advice to others -- call or mail in your readings, don't rely on estimates. Why should the fuel company have your money?

Carmen Hangauer
East Amherst


>News is wrong to call for New Orleans asset

Shame on The News for kicking New Orleans when it is down. The Jan. 29 editorial suggesting that Delaware North Cos. relocate the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. headquarters to Buffalo is a shortsighted and selfish attempt in the game of stealing businesses. Stripping a suffering community of one of its major employers is not a positive reflection of community support under any circumstances.

In addition to providing jobs for New Orleans, the Delta Queen Steamboats bring thousands of visitors to the city, an important ingredient in the revival of New Orleans. There is no denying that could occur with a staff located in Buffalo, but at what cost? The staff would be divorced from the lore and excitement of the Mississippi, it would not be in synch with the rhythms of the river, and the relocation would make a statement that even a business as intimately connected with New Orleans and the Mississippi River cannot house it business operations there.

I hope the Jacobs family will realize that for both business and community reasons, the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. is intimately connected with New Orleans and should be located there.

Robert E. Rintz
Sr. Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Delta Queen Steamboat Co.


>Funeral business is constantly changing

Regarding the Jan. 20 News article about a local funeral parlor chain adding growth to its regional business, the following facts have affected the funeral industry: Cremation is rapidly increasing, simplicity is a trend, celebration of life is favored over routine rituals and death care and funeral services are not a growth industry.

Cremation has been tolerated rather than enhanced by death care providers who have been unwilling to invest in its growth. Death care is considered to be a flat market. Providers gain market share by taking it from others. Chains fall short of attracting new business, and prices and services are no more attractive than their competition.

There are over 175 mortuaries in the Buffalo area all competing for a number of deaths that stays pretty much the same every year. Every time a new acquisition is made, this results in much higher funeral costs than necessary. Overhead to support all these costs is financially burdening for funeral customers.

The change in the community is a white elephant mortuary with sensible pricing that welcomes simplicity.

Thaddeus V. Bieniek
Greater Buffalo Memorial Society


>Companies too often take advantage of area

Sometimes it seems that we are foolish to want to accept any big industry that presents itself to Western New York while, at the same time, asking for favors. A Jan. 27 letter criticized the Power Authority for not giving Wacker Chemie AG the cheap power it wanted.

However it happened, I feel that it was a blessing. Big industry often comes into town, uses the land, accepts tax breaks and then leaves when it has used us up. These companies leave for greener pastures because the labor is too expensive or the environmental controls are too costly and would invade the stockholder's dividends.

Then we the taxpayers have to clean up the mess. What could that mess be? It could be contaminated land, ill employees, broken pension promises, dirty sewers, polluted air and water, unemployment, loss of health care plans, abandoned buildings, etc.

We need to examine every possible new business with an eye to the long-range benefits as well as the long-range consequences.

Evelyn Malone
East Amherst

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