New York

Letters to the Editor for Friday, Jan. 3

Your Voice

Current healthcare is not sustainable

Healthcare costs in the United States have been increasing at an alarming rate. Last year, these costs reached over $3.6 trillion, exceeding the GDP of all but four countries. Per capita healthcare costs in the United States are about twice that of any other developed country.
A number of studies have identified the major factors driving our very high healthcare costs as noted below.
The No. 1 factor is the very high administrative costs of running our healthcare system. About one-quarter of healthcare cost in the United States is associated with administration, which is far higher than in any other developed country.
Another major driver is the cost of drugs. In most countries, the government negotiates drug prices with the drug makers. Congress has denied Medicare the right to use its power to negotiate drug prices.
The practice of defensive medicine also contributes to high costs. Doctors are afraid they will get sued, so they order multiple tests even when they are certain of the diagnosis.
Wages and staffing also drive up costs in healthcare. Specialists command high reimbursements, and the over-utilization of specialists through the current process of referral decision-making drives health costs even higher.
In spite of our expenditures, the World Health Organization ranked the United States 37th in healthcare systems, and The Commonwealth Fund placed the United States last among the top 11 industrialized countries in overall healthcare.
We must urge our leaders to improve healthcare and reduce costs. We cannot sustain the current situation.
Don Steiner

Tonko works hard to protect environment

I’m writing to address the Dec. 27 letter from Alfred Riccio about Paul Tonko being too far left to represent our district. Specifically, the complaint was about Mr. Tonko caring too much about the environment and that he’s siding with “radical leftist socialists.”
Using such labels fails to adequately explain a person’s underlying thoughts on an issue. Mr. Tonko, fortunately, has had quite a bit of experience addressing issues related to the environment.
Does this writer not care about the environment? I certainly do, and I would hope that every responsible citizen in Mr. Tonko’s district, whether or not he or she has children and grandchildren, will support and praise those who take action on protecting our tenuous environment.
I’m very thankful that Mr. Tonko is well qualified to represent our district regarding the environment. He serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which happens to be one of the oldest standing committees in the House, created in 1795.
Mr. Tonko was elected by his peers to chair the subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. He graduated from Clarkson University with a degree in mechanical and industrial engineering. I appreciate anyone with the credentials, experience  and, most importantly, the commitment that Mr. Tonko has to represent my desire for environmental sustainability. I truly don’t understand why anyone would question the need for environmental action at this point in time. I wish Mr. Tonko my support and best wishes for his success with working on the critical environmental issues of today.
Bill Shapiro

Thank you to Scotia officer for shoveling

This thank you is for the officer who stopped his patrol car, got out, took the shovel out of my hands and proceeded to open the entrance to my driveway. I didn’t get his name, but Scotia should be very proud of your officers.
Elena Isabella

Join in the fight to bring end to hatred

In light of the multiple anti-Semitic attacks over the past 10 days, members of the Schenectady Clergy Against Hate again write to assert our solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers.
We believe that the visible example of unity among our members stands as a witness of the world we wish to achieve: one where differences in faith and belief are celebrated.
Our anger and our lament challenge hatred with transformative love. Our coalition strives to model what change and transformation look like in our own settings and traditions.
We encourage others to join us to push back against forces of evil and hatred in our own midst.
Speak out against anti-Semitism. Challenge Islamaphobia and racist tropes. Push back against anti-immigrant and xenophobic ideology. Advocate for the disabled, the marginalized, the LGBTQ community and those facing socioeconomic injustice.
Let the change begin with us right here, right now. The Schenectady Clergy Against Hate Coalition is grieved that yet another letter, another service of interfaith unity, another demonstration is necessary. Still, we will continue to show up in support of all who face hatred and bigotry as our faiths compel us. We invite all to a service of solidarity this Sunday evening, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m. at Congregation Gates of Heaven. Join us in this sacred work to create a world where all are welcomed, affirmed, and celebrated.
Rev. Kathy Gorman-Coombs

Get the facts about Thruway toll plan

In response to Assemblyman Santabarbara’s Dec. 28 letter (“Oppose new toll/tax on upstate drivers “), we’d like to make sure everyone is aware of the facts surrounding the Thruway’s Toll Adjustment Proposal.
The proposal is fair and modest and puts New York drivers first.
Under this proposal, drivers with a New York E-ZPass would see no toll increase.
Thruway tolls have not increased since 2010 and the highway is fully operated and maintained by tolls, not taxpayer dollars. In the last 10 years, we have reinvested more than $6.6 billion into Thruway infrastructure. Our goal is simple – keep tolls as low as possible for our customers.
This proposal ensures that New York E-ZPass customers would have their tolls frozen at current levels. For Thruway users who don’t yet have an E-ZPass, you have time to sign up, as this proposal would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2021. E-ZPass offers payment plans for everyone, regardless of how often you travel the Thruway. Customers can also conveniently get E-ZPass at more than 900 locations across the state, including more than two dozen locations in the assemblyman’s district.
Even with this Toll Adjustment Proposal, Thruway toll rates will remain some of the lowest per-mile costs anywhere when compared to other major toll roads in the Northeast.
We will be holding public hearings over the next year, and we look forward to working with the assemblyman and others to encourage people to sign up for E-ZPass and keep their tolls frozen at current levels.
Matthew J. Driscoll
The writer is the Thruway Authority executive director.

Thanks for column honoring nonprofits

A big thank you to Sara Foss for highlighting the work of nonprofits in her year-end column, “Celebrate Those Who Help the Electric City.”
Reading about the various enterprises that provide serious resources and encouragement to those that could use a helping hand was enlightening; offering inspiration to take a step toward personal involvement in our city — that it be a more comfortable and inclusive place for all of us.  
Carole deForest

Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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