Children's Health Insurance Program
Renew children's insurance fund
As a pediatrician in training, I have seen how essential the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, is in keeping our nation's children healthy. Yet Congress missed the Sept. 30 deadline to extend CHIP funding, and now 9 million children are at risk of losing insurance. That is why I stand with the American Academy of Pediatrics in urging Congress to extend CHIP funding for five years immediately.
CHIP, known as KidCare in Florida, is a federally funded program that provides affordable, high-quality health care coverage to children across the country. Nearly 375,000 Floridian children rely on CHIP because their families do not qualify for Medicaid but also do not earn enough to buy private health insurance.
Since CHIP was enacted 20 years ago, the share of uninsured children nationally has been cut in half. In Florida, health insurance coverage for children is at an all-time high of 93 percent.
As a former mathematics teacher in a low-income neighborhood, I witnessed firsthand the effects of inadequate health coverage on my students. Many missed school due to their own illnesses or injuries, and often needed to stay at home to care for an ill younger sibling because their parents could not afford to miss work. Parents had to decide between buying groceries or picking up the prescription given to them by the emergency department for their child's ear infection or sore throat.
Because of CHIP, my students could get routine checkups and sick visits, immunizations, affordable prescriptions, diagnostic testing, in-patient medical and surgical care, dental and vision care, mental health services, and the list goes on.
I thank Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., for co-sponsoring the Keep Kids' Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act of 2017 to extend CHIP funding for five more years, and I urge Sen. Marco Rubio to join him.
Dr. Saira Ahmed, Bethesda, Md.
The writer, a second-year pediatrics resident, grew up in Belleair Beach.
Las Vegas massacre
Seize killer's wealth
In the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre, all our thoughts are on the "why" — which we may never know. The issue of the NRA and weapons possession is another issue for our politicians to struggle with.
All our hearts ache for the victims. I think that the wealth of this reported multimillionaire — every penny of it — should go to the injured victims who will need financial support for their medical and emotional recovery and to the families of those he killed. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
Patricia Knees, Sun City Center
Problem with large events
After the heinous act of a radicalized serial shooter in Las Vegas, we will hear many politicians offer prayer, condolences and deepest thoughts for the victims. That is well and good, but we need legislative action to bring the sale of assault weapons under control. Recent history tells us we will not see any such action.
In absence of gun control, it is time to rethink how we live in this society. The victims and survivors alike were cordoned into a concert by temporary fences — caged if you will. This circumstance made shooting them easier and rescuing the injured much more difficult. I ask our local and state leaders to immediately ban the caging in of our citizens at local concerts such as those periodically at Straub Park in St. Petersburg or Coachman Park in Clearwater.
The NRA will not come after our leaders for such actions, and thus they may find the courage or spinal column to act on simple legislation like this. Then we can start talking about how to prevent large gatherings of more sitting ducks, like stadium sporting events. Sure, there will be repercussions for such legislation. What concert organizer would want to organize a concert with "open boundaries"? But such are the costs living in a society without the ability to control instruments of mass casualty simply because industry leaders are unwilling to sacrifice the profits they make from them and because politicians fail to honor the 2nd Amendment's requisite of a "well-regulated" militia.
Brad Rosenheim, St. Petersburg
Restrictions have support
As a former hunter and member of the NRA, I say that today is the day to discuss legitimate firearms restrictions. It is time for the NRA and our elected representative to stop making excuses about the purported evils of gun registration and restrictions.
The Second Amendment was not approved by the Founders so that all Americans could have the use of any class of firearm they desired, whenever and wherever they wished. (The murderer in Las Vegas could probably have defeated the Continental Army single-handedly with his cache of killing machines.) Requiring background checks for gun sales is not aimed at building a shadowy governmental database to spy on all gun owners and eventually seize all their guns. Semiautomatic and automatic rifles are not hunting tools; they were developed for war and are strictly people-killers.
A vast number of NRA members approve of legitimate gun restrictions.
Arthur N. Eggers, Tampa