Letters to the Editor -- June 10, 2011

Mitchell pens letter to commissioner

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Delaware Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart. It was also sent to President Barack Obama, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

On May 12, 2011, you requested a waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a three-year phase in of the Affordable Care Act requirement that premium dollars be spent on medical care. This phase-in would cost Delaware consumers of health insurance $1.6 million in rebates, according to your Web site.

I oppose this action because it violates the core of health care reform proposed by President Obama for the following reasons:

An AP poll in 2010 said that the recently enacted Obama health care policy did not go far enough. Now, Delaware wants to cut whatever small benefits that may accrue to the health care consumer. As a consumer, my health insurance costs have shot up 10 percent per year for the last four years. When I was a councilman, I had to deal with ever-increasing health insurance costs to our town employees, which broke our town budget.

The Affordable Care Act was predicted to “improve coverage for 558,000 Delaware residents with health insurance and generally make health care affordable for the middle class.” It promised reform and affordability.

The reform law required that health insurers must report annually on the share of premium dollars spent on medical care where less than 80 to 85 percent of dollars are used for benefits, and rebate the difference to consumers beginning in 2011. Thus, your request violates the core of the new law, which was to make health insurance more affordable for the average American.

Another objective of the health care reform was to rein in soaring insurance costs by limiting the amount insurance companies can spend on administrative expenses, profits and other overhead costs. One instance of those costs was the exorbitant salaries given to CEOs of insurers. Aetna’s CEO received $24 million in compensation in one year. Part of Aetna’s market was in Delaware.

Your decision was based on the fear that insurers will leave the Delaware market and the fear that those agents/brokers cannot adjust to the downsizing of their commissions.

However, you offer little or no data on your Web site to justify these claims. Insurers can leave the market for other reasons, and so there is no guarantee that they will stay.

Is it not as likely that insurers can make a profit under circumstances of higher medical loss ratios (MLR) and can adjust to changing conditions? Insurers have adapted in the past to adverse conditions and made substantial profits on the backs of consumers.

We are forced to weigh the benefit for a few agent/brokers against the benefit for the many consumers of health care. I believe that the benefit of consumers far outweighs the benefit of a few brokers/agents. It has been over a year since health reform has passed and they should have adjusted their business models by now to the current reality.

The consolidated data offered on your Web site is not as transparent as it should be, and so we have to take it on faith that you are making the right decision. Everyone has had more than a year to adjust, and everyone was put on notice of the deadlines in the Act. Thus, your claims are tenuous at best.

Now I am still waiting for the health care reform you want to delay.

Perry J. Mitchell
Ocean View

JWJ Memorial Day 5K Race/Walk a success

The Justin W. Jennings Foundation and Justin’s Beach House held its 3rd Annual 5K on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. We have really grown since our first year; 525 runners and walkers came out to support Justin’s Beach House on a beautiful Saturday.

We would like to thank the Town of Bethany Beach and the Bethany Beach Police Department for their help and cooperation. Thank you to M&T Bank, the lead sponsor of the 5K Race/Walk, as well as a new member of the Bethany Beach family, and Mango’s, the sponsor of the after-party.

We would also like to thank the following sponsors: Miken Builders Inc., Mark Deiste Design Build LLC, Crowley Associates Realty, Lighthouse Liquors, Denise Beam-State Farm Insurance, Craig Building Design, Retirement Planners & Administrators, Banks Wine and Spirits, The Cottage Café, the Law Office of Susan Pittard Weidman, Rehoboth Beach Running Co., Beth Evans-Remax By The Sea Real Estate and The Holly’s Club of Smyrna.

Also contributing to the race was the Coastal Point, Mr. Natural Bottled Water, Maureen’s Ice Cream and Desserts, and Giant.

This event is a win-win for Justin’s Beach House and for Bethany Beach. Proceeds from the race support and maintain Justin’s Beach House, and the town has another 500 to 1,000 people that will contribute to the economy.

Thank you to Sue McKone, 5K event coordinator, and our many volunteers for your kindness, encouragement and support. Justin’s Beach House is a spiritually and physically enriching part of the Bethany Beach coastal community – because of you.

Thank you!

Craig Nantais, Chairperson
Justin W. Jennings Foundation
Justin’s Beach House

Rehoboth fireworks show moving along

Plans are under way for the Rehoboth Beach Main Street Fireworks for Monday evening, July 4. While we hope to have the most impressive show ever, thanks to our collaboration with the internationally known Zambelli Fireworks family, we must appeal to the community to help make the show possible.

Each year, we raise 100 percent of the fireworks funds directly from the residents and merchants here in Rehoboth and the surrounding areas. It’s not surprising, given current financial conditions country-wide, that we are a little short of the needed funds this year. Our donors have been wonderfully loyal, but some of them are no longer in a position to be as generous as before.

For that reason, we’re asking those of you who have never donated to this huge community event, or those who haven’t yet donated this year, to consider helping us out with the fireworks fund.

So far, hundreds of checks have been received, but we are not quite half of the way to our goal. While donations have been coming in at a steady pace, we find it necessary to appeal to the community to help us make sure we can fund a spectacular show for 2011.

If readers are in a position to help, we would appreciate donations in any amount to be sent to: Fireworks, Rehoboth Beach Main Street, P.O. Box 50, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Once again, we will have shuttle buses running from Route 1 to help people get in and out of town, music at the bandstand, and lots of action downtown to make this a spectacular night.

Please help us fund this truly community-based event. Whether you can give a little, a lot, or in-between, please help us have a great big blast this year!

Thank you. We look forward to a terrific event on Monday, July 4.

Kathy McGuiness, Chair
Fireworks Committee
Rehoboth Beach Main Street Inc.