Medicare overhaul lacks needed changes

Regarding your June 16 article "A major Medicare expansion": The problem I see with the prescription-drug legislation is that it will be like Medicare. Many senior citizens were covered by a health plan when they retired. Medicare does not give you the option to keep your health plan as the primary plan and Medicare as a supplemental. Instead, the retiree is forced onto Medicare; the health plan becomes the supplemental plan and limits payment to the approved amount paid by Medicare. Therefore, no reimbursement is normally received from the supplemental insurance. At present, many of these plans pay for drugs on a mail-in basis. The prescription-drug legislation will be the same as the health plan, and one will be forced onto it without choice, just as with Medicare.

There should be a choice in both the health plan and drug plan as to which one is primary. At the moment, we have no choice.
J.S. Boyer
Midwest City, Okla.

Choosing freedom over safety

In your June 10 article regarding cellphone bans ("How ultimate car culture handles a cellphone ban"), I find it interesting that Assemblyman Doug La Malfa wants the police to ticket distracted drivers rather than legislate against cellphone use. He complains that regulations against cellphone use in cars amount to government meddling, and that government should be more concerned about budget deficits. What would he say about government intrusiveness (and even larger deficits) if enough police were put on the street to watch every cellphone user? Dangerous driving by cellphone users would be laughable if not so dangerous. If his logic played out, driving while intoxicated would be legal. It would require only placing enough police on the streets to arrest drivers who exhibit erratic driving. A decision must be made: Do we value freedom for people to do what they wish despite risks to others, or is safety paramount over individual choice?
Alois Hoog Jr.
Fort Riley, Kan.

Bikers are responsible, not rebellious

I read your article on the problem of land management in multiactivity access areas, and I was dismayed to see a complete disregard for portraying an accurate and complete picture of the issues at hand ("Birders, bikers, and others jostle in city parks," June 13). As pleased as I was to see the comment about Edward Varela using his helmet, I was utterly disappointed to see the writer typify the entire mountain-bike community as "rebels" who hold land managers and environmental policy in contempt. What Mr. Varela did was wrong and there is no excusing such an irresponsible action. Moreover, I agree there are a number of difficult problems at hand: Land is at a premium, and enforcement of land policy is very difficult - especially with the limited budget many land mangers have to work with.

But many mountain bikers are very responsible when it comes to using land fairly. The International Mountain Bike Association has 32,000 individual members who have pledged to ride only open trails and to practice leave-no-trace methods. Many spend their free time cooperating with land managers to maintain the trails they and others use. We can say there is a problem with land-use policy and enforcement, and we can point fingers, but this will not help anyone. Advocating responsibility and cooperation will.
Dennis Donald
Jackson, Tenn.

The rewards of mediation in Iraq

Regarding your June 17 article "Iraqi tribe leaders find new clout": Excellent news! I was in-house counsel to the Crow Tribe in Montana from 1992 to 1996. There's plenty of common ground between distinct races (or people, period) when both sides are not only willing, but ready, to seek mutual gain.

That can and will happen if we remain committed to the Iraqis' welfare.
Mike Austin
Brooksville, Fla.

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