Letters for May 16, 2019

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The Macon County News letters page is a public forum open to a wide variety of  opinions. Letters are neither accepted nor rejected on the basis of the opinions expressed. Writers are asked to refrain from personal attacks against individuals or businesses. Letters are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of the publisher, editor or staff of The Macon County News. Email letters to maconcountynews@ gmail.com.

Many Americans one diagnosis away from disaster

Imagine that you go to your general practitioner and she reminds you that it’s time for a colonoscopy.  You have the colonoscopy and the doctor tells you that you have colon cancer. The surgery is scheduled. You get a CAT scan to see whether there is any obvious spread to the cancer.  The surgery is completed and you are home two days later, missing about 11 inches of your colon.

While you are recuperating, the bills start rolling in:

Colonoscopy – Office visit, colonoscopy, pathology -$6624

Pre-Op CAT scan – $2080

Physician-Office visit, surgery, pathology – $10,749

Hospital – $45,288

The total is $64,741.  

This happened to me.

 I am on Medicare and have supplemental coverage.  Of the total, Medicare paid $15,027 and my supplemental insurance paid $2,391.  My out of pocket cost was about $200.

If I were under 65 and had no insurance, I would be liable for the entire $64,741.  Few families can afford this kind of a financial shock.  News reports claim that almost half of households cannot afford a $400 financial “surprise.”

I also looked at my drug costs.  A 90-day supply of my four generic prescriptions has a list price of $905.  I paid $92.   Again, without the price reductions negotiated by my insurance company, I would be liable for the entire $905 – or I would do without.

My point is that an increasing number of people are one medical diagnosis away from financial disaster. This should not be the case in the wealthiest country in the world. After all, every other developed country in the world has figured it out.

There are numerous ways to solve this problem.  With the exception of the millions of citizens who have poor or no insurance, our current mostly private system works, although it is the most expensive in the world and provides only mediocre outcomes.  

The first, and most important issue, is to cover the approximately 80 million Americans with inadequate or no insurance.  Simply expanding Medicaid would cover several hundred thousand people just in North Carolina.  Most states have done this.  Modifications to existing programs (e.g. ACA, Medicare, Medicaid) could probably accomplish most of the rest.

Ultimately, however, we must provide universal coverage and address the outrageous costs and mediocre outcomes of our current system.

Not addressing this problem condemns millions of Americans to premature death and/or financial disaster.  

Is that who we are?

John Gladden – Franklin, N.C.

Democrats admonished to combine reason, emotion

Reason and emotion are the two fundamental bases for decision-making. We are facing some historic decisions in America today. None is more important at the moment than whether to impeach Donald Trump or not.

Conventional wisdom says Democrats should rely almost entirely on the truth revealed by the Mueller Report (reason). It has also been said that Democrats should remember the aftermath of the Nixon and Clinton impeachment processes. Most say that impeachment will fail because the Republicans in the Senate will not abandon Trump (emotion).

The fallacy in bringing up Nixon and Clinton is that they pale in comparison to the peril that Donald Trump has led America into. Neither Nixon nor Clinton entangled America in the tentacles of a foreign power. Donald Trump has. He has refused to heed the warnings given to him by the most advanced intelligence organizations in the world. He has refused to establish a bi-partisan commission to investigate Russian interference in our election process. At present he is insisting that his aides not testify before Congress. He has attempted to require appointees to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements. He has touted the claims of two foreign powers (Russia and Saudi Arabia) over America’s intelligence sources. This list is sufficient to show how dangerous Donald Trump has been and is still. It is nowhere near a comprehensive list.

Democrats need to couple the reason they have used so far with a term that evokes images of the present peril (emotion). Allow me to suggest “Putin-Gate”. Then they need to exploit reason along with emotion to force action from Republicans who are hiding behind their blind loyalty to Trump and their party. Democrats need to quit worrying about losing the 2020 election. They need to force the issue of loyalty to party or allegiance to America now. They must act boldly because the country needs bold action as opposed to maintaining a president in office (Republican goal) and relying entirely on the reason embodied in the Mueller Report (Democrat strategy).

In sports terms this combination of reason and emotion can be likened to (1) having a team well-drilled in fundamentals, (2) formulating a solid game plan and (3) playing with emotion. The team that plays to keep from losing too often places itself at a distinct disadvantage by allowing the underdog to hang around late in the game. 

Act boldly, Democrats!  Kris Kristofferson sang, “I’d rather be sorry for something I’ve done than for something that I didn’t do.”

Leave Donald Trump with “Impeached” by his name in history. You will only have one chance. Use reason and emotion rather than relying only on reason. It is fairly clear that Trump’s base decides mainly on emotion. Raw emotion will not endure the power of reason and emotion combined.

  Dave Waldrop – Webster, N.C.

Editor’s note: The following letters were submitted to the NCDOT and copied to The Macon County News regarding the proposed changes to Georgia Road from Wide Horizon Drive to Prentiss Bridge Road. The comment period for the project closed on April 30. 

The right questions need to be answered

Much has been discussed about the Georgia Road Widening Project. Specifically about STIP Number R-5734 B. This is the project from just south of Wide Horizon Drive to just south of Prentiss Bridge Road. The discussion has centered around what to do about the alleged high incident rate of Traffic Crashes in this approximate 2.8 mile stretch. The NCDOT contracted consulting company, Stantec Consulting Services, who alleges a 131% higher accident rate and four (4) times the number of fatalities for this stretch of road as compared to “similar” stretches of highways within the State. IF TRUE, this is a very large difference and something that should be addressed.

However, if the statistical analysis is faulty, the results are then faulty and the justification for this project should be questioned. 

At the public meeting held April 16th, a representative from Stantec was present. He could not provide details of the number or type of crashes that occurred in the subject area. However he stated that there had been 12 fatalities is this area. When further questioned he admitted that of the 12 fatalities, 3 where in the area south of Wide Horizon to Prentiss Bridge, and 2 of those where at the intersection of Prentiss Bridge Road and the Georgia Road. 9 of these fatalities occurred from Wide Horizon to the US 441 By-Pass area which is subject of STIP R- 5734 A. 

The data from the STIP R-5734 A was therefore injected into the statistics for STIP R-5734 B, which is subject of this public discussion. These two sections of Georgia Road have completely different profiles and should not be combined when determining crash rates and safety. This raises a RED FLAG about the legitimacy of the statistical data used for the entire project. 

Are the comparable highways used in this study truly similar to Georgia Road south of Wide Horizon. What are the profiles of these highways? Are they nearly 2.8 miles of 5 lane roadway consisting of a multi directional center turn lane with a uninhibited flow of traffic, only controlled by a Speed Limit (50 MPH)? Are there over 100 ingress/egress driveways and streets connected directly to highway to allow access to businesses, residences and connector streets? Does the comparable highway have similar traffic flow rates and side street and driveway flow numbers? What type of traffic crashes are occurring on the Georgia Road and the comparable highways , i.e. side impact left turns, rear end collisions, head on collisions, etc.? What are some of the contributing factors of these crashes?  Driver contribution: such as driver impairment or distraction, etc. Environmental contribution: such as rain, fog, ice, etc. Mechanical failure of vehicles or traffic control devices, etc. 

Much should be taken into consideration to make a truly valid comparison of traffic crash causes. Failure to use scientifically correct methodology should be unacceptable and persons responsible should be held accountable. 

31 million dollars of tax payer money has been allocated to this project. If anyone knew or should have known the analysis and conclusions were faulty to justify this project and are financially or politically gaining from this project should be sanctioned and legal action taken, including the possibility of a criminal investigation into FRAUD.

If the study was statistically sound and the claimed results are accurate, then something certainly should be undertaken to alleviate these tragedies. The discussion then can concentrate on the appropriate action that is directly related to resolving the safety issues found in a valid study. 

This project should be at least put on hold until the right questions are asked and answered.

John Miller – Franklin, N.C.

Most sincere concern is for public safety

Dear Mr. McDowell [NCDOT Assistant Design Construction Engineer],

I have read Mr. John Miller’s e-mailed public comments.  It is apparent that Mr. Miller speaks both from personal observation and professional experience.

My purpose in writing is to add my personal observation and address my most sincere concern for public safety.

To keep this letter concise and brief I will put my thoughts into bullet point statements:

• Frankly speaking, putting a bike lane adjacent to heavy highway traffic separated by a painted line is nothing less than insane.  It defies logic and common sense.

• A similar high traffic road I have in mind has a paved bike path physically separated from, and barrier protected from traffic incursion.

• Consider this: As proposed, a distracted driver, an accident, or a deliberate criminal act could cross the proposed painted line and inflict serious injury or death to any bike rider(s).

• Additionally bike riders would be exposed to being struck by flying gravel, tire shards, and other hazards coming from these moving vehicles.

• Most recently my wife and I stopped for fuel at Fastop convenience store and gas station located at 2657 Georgia Road Franklin.  This location is within the area of the proposed construction.  Needing to travel north on Georgia Road we exited the gas station onto Lowery Lane.  We stopped at the stop sign and waited to make a left turn north bound. Trying to make a left hand turn onto Georgia Road is an exasperating experience.  There was a constant stream of vehicles spread out over an extended distance.  This constant stream of fast moving traffic sets up a hazardous situation where impatient drivers may attempt to cross endangering their lives, and that of others.  Mr. Miller’s idea about timed signal lights and a reduced speed limit to bunch up and slow down traffic has much merit.

• Lastly, reducing the lane width to 11 feet is a BAD idea. Georgia Road is a main traffic corridor for the transportation of heavy and wide industrial and construction machinery and the movement of mobile homes to name just a few.  If the proposed project is intended to increase safety then how can this reduction in lane width be justified?

It has been pointed out that these public comments become a permanent record.  You and the DOT have the responsibility to make sure this project will stand up to the moral and legal liability it requires.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment,

  

Joseph W. Uebelher Jr. – Franklin, N.C.

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