Union Democrat staff

Affordable health care

To the editor:

I am very troubled with Senator Barbara Boxer's reply to my letter opposing the current health care plans before Congress. Her statement: "I am committed to working with President Obama to ensure that Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care that they can rely on."

That was her response to me. If I am not mistaken, she works for me, not the president. He does not pay her salary, I, and the rest of taxpayers of California do. Therefore Senator Boxer should be "committed" to us (California tax payers), not the president.

The government has tried to manage health care (Medicare), and it is losing money. The government also has run the U.S. Postal Service, and it is always in the red while private enterprise has made profits.

The government health care still wants to limit care for seniors, and even give counsel to help end their lives.

Is this how the government rewards its seniors? As far as the affordable health care is concerned, when Congress comes up with a plan that is good enough for members to exchange their current health care plan for, then I will support them and the plan. Until then we have to be sure that we do not go father in debt with this so called health plan, as the U.S. is so far in debt now that raising taxes or curtailing government spending are the only ways out.

I do not want higher taxes, and what has me concerned now is unemployment and government "pork barrel" spending.

Ronald Sylvia


Get them spayed

To the editor:

Recently, after my cousin went for a walk with her mother, they showed up at my door step with a gift. The gift was a gift of life that a mother cat had given to these precious two-week-old baby kittens that my cousin was now holding. It was not her cat that gave birth, and the mother of these kittens is unknown as they were abandoned in front of Mike's Pizza in East Sonora right next to the road.

They are now at the Tuolumne County Humane Society, as I was unable to bottle feed these kittens every four hours as they need, as I am a single mother that works full time.

I love my own cats, so I made sure they are spayed/neutered. I don't want any more little kittens running around that I cannot take care of. To me its just like having kids, don't have them if you are not going to take care of them and have them put into foster care. That is what the Humane Society is, but for animals, it's foster care. Please take care of your animals and have them spayed/neutered. If you cannot afford to then, don't get an animal until you can.

Dawn Brennan


Shared services

To the editor:

Back in March I wrote an opinion piece about school district unification. Since then multiple members of our community have written letters or opinion pieces in favor of such action. The Tuolumne County Grand Jury recommends, "for the best interests of our children," that the school districts in our county should explore unification and or consolidation.

The unification process typically takes one to two years to complete, and requires the approval of the local school boards along with the California Department of Education. While the community and local boards continue to consider this action, another option has surfaced; shared services.

Last May, Sonora Elementary School District took action and formed a shared services committee comprised of trustees, administration, teachers, staff, outside business leaders and parents. Shared services allows school districts to work together to increase buying power and consolidate support services which can lead to direct cost savings.

Our committee identified more than a dozen areas for potential savings, including food services, transportation, technology, purchasing, general administration, etc. The county superintendent of schools offered to help coordinate committees dealing with food services and transportation. Other areas for savings are currently being reviewed by the committee.

I would like to encourage all our neighbors and friends to work with your local school board to support this endeavor. We must work together to send a message that it is time to stop the talking and take action for the best interest of our children.

Casey Littleton,

Board member, Sonora School District


A monstrosity

To the editor:

The health care bill voted out of the House Ways and Means Committee this summer is a monstrosity containing a wide array of detrimental provisions, many not even relating to health care.

A little-noticed provision would change the law to mandate that the IRS slap penalties on honest, but errant taxpayers. Under current law, taxpayers who lose an argument with the IRS can generally avoid penalties by showing that they tried in good faith to comply with the tax law. In a broad range of circumstances, the health-care bill would change the law to impose strict liability penalties for income-tax underpayments, meaning that taxpayers will no longer have the luxury of making honest mistakes. The IRS's ability to waive penalties in sympathetic cases would be sharply curtailed.

In 2004, Congress adopted very large "automatic" (i.e., "mandatory") penalties for failure to attach a tax-shelter reporting form to a tax return. Company retirement plans are viewed as "tax shelters." A 72 year-old car wash owner was fined $900,000 and forced into bankruptcy when he failed to report properly when setting up a retirement plan for his employees. This law prevented the IRS from waiving huge penalties in other cases involving honest errors. A $100,000 penalty was imposed on each of six minor children of a small business owner for not filing the right tax forms.

People protested to Congress. Congress protested to the IRS. But, the IRS was only enforcing the law exactly as Congress wrote it. But did Congress read it?

Few in Congress have read their own health care bill. It is irresponsible, dangerous legislation. We must stop it.

George Kellerman


Bureaucratic arrogance

To the editor:

Duuuhhh? Jeez! I don't know where Yosemite Park Acting Superintendent Dave Uberuaga is from, but I can safely say every responsible adult I know who has lived in the western U.S. for any period of time is afraid to even sneeze during August and early September. Uberuaga's defense of his staff's decision to ignite a fire in August while refusing to share copies of the park's burn policies is the height of bureaucratic arrogance and a fine example of government gone wild. If I ran my chain saw and started a fire, I would be billed by the state for suppression costs. Are these people going to pay? So far, more than 7,200 acres and $16 million.

Every single citizen of this community who is upset by this incident should contact their congressman and senators and demand that the morons who are responsible for the decision to ignite this fire be terminated and charged with arson.

What if civilians or firefighters had lost their lives, as has happened in the current southern California wildfires? Would that be OK because the fire was lit within parameters for prescribed burns? Would the bureaucrats be charged with murder? Where is common sense? Who made the decision to torch these California foothill wildlands in August?

It seems to me our brave firefighters are usually pretty busy this time of the year and I thank them for their efforts. They sure don't need this type of added burden.

While I think that our health care system needs some reform, think about these kinds of idiots lacking any common sense running your health care.

Mike Schmitz

Mountain Ranch

Rights remain

To the editor:

In response to Barb Birks' Sep. 8 letter ("Read the Bill"), I have read much of HR3200, the 1,000-plus page Health Care Bill. Quoting from her letter, "This bill also includes a mandatory consult for Advance Care Planning every five years ..." and "... end of life orders that include how, what and when. That's euthanasia."

An objective of HR3200 is to authorize Medicare to pay for an Advance Care Planning Consultation (ACPC) at most once every five years. Section 1233 addresses this issue with subsection (a) providing the necessary revisions to the Social Security Act, including a new ACPC sub-subsection. A five-year mandate for an ACPC is never mentioned in Section 1233. The only mention of time requirements is in (hhh)(1) limiting the payments to a maximum of once in five years and, in (hhh)(3), providing an exception to this limitation when an individual experiences significant changes in health conditions. The proposal only authorizes payment; whether or not we choose to seek a consult is left entirely up to us.

An ACPC may include the formulation of an "order regarding life sustaining treatment" (hhh)(4). Described in (hhh)(5)(A), this is "... an actionable medical order" signed and dated by a health care practitioner (as defined in (hhh)(2)) that "... effectively communicates the individual's preferences regarding life sustaining treatment" (hhh)(5)(A)(iii).

This will not result in euthanasia, since care is based solely on the individual's preferences, and it ensures those preferences are carried out when the individual can no longer communicate them. The order does not take away any of our health care rights; it only enforces those we already have.

Bill Hansen