Readers Write: July 9

Let U.S. secession take its course

I want to second Leonard Pitts’s openness to the idea of secession (“Marking a fractured Fourth …” Opinion, July 2). I believe if you take a look at a map of how the states voted in the recent presidential election, it will serve as a template on how to divide up the states. That would allow the progressive states to implement every feel-good policy they deem worthy. Tax your businesses out of existence. Make everything free. Huge pensions for all government workers. Give everyone a check. No accountability for anyone. It would be a fantastic social experiment. In a few years when they have gone the way of Illinois because their policies have inevitably failed, as they always do, the fiscal conservative states could then buy them back at pennies on the dollar.


Parker’s idea only cuts taxes for rich

Star Parker’s June 21 column proposed a “dollar-for-dollar” charity tax credit because “so much of (government) spending is ineffective and inefficient.” Humor me: Assume about 29 percent of adults (72 million) donate $1,000 to charities in 2018. That’s $72 billion in lost government revenue, roughly equal to the 2016 “housing and community” budget. Does she really think existing charities are ready to ramp up to provide an additional $72 billion in services? If so, show me research data that addresses the efficiency/effectiveness of private charities.

Her idea provides a nice tax break for people making enough money to be able to afford to give away $1,000 to charities. However, it won’t reduce the taxes for the “poor” in a meaningful way, if at all, because they don’t have that kind of (Schedule A) discretionary income.


Vogtle Units 3 and 4 should be nixed

Now is the time to pull the plug at Plant Vogtle.

Georgia Power residential electric customers pay 7 percent of their bills to finance building Vogtle Units 3 and 4 – so far a staggering $1.8 billion nuclear corporate welfare tax. Vogtle is four years behind schedule and $4 billion over budget. And customer-financed costs continue to rise.

Vogtle 3 and 4 are not needed. Energy efficiency and utility-scale solar power are significantly cheaper than nuclear electricity generated at Vogtle.

U.S. Energy Information Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, reports that in March and April more power was generated by clean, renewable energy sources than was generated by antiquated nuclear power.

Cancel Vogtle 3 and 4 now and save customers billions of dollars. Invest the billion-dollar savings in clean, safe, reliable energy, as we inevitability move from dirty coal and dirty nuclear toward 21st-century renewable energy.


Hospitals not getting rich off 340B discounts

The AJC’s story (“Hospitals chase lucrative drug discounts,” News, June 16), says some hospitals in the 340B drug discount program aren’t leaders in caring for the poor. That’s wrong. Hospitals must serve a very high percentage of low-income patients – around 30 percent – just to qualify for 340B discounts. The 340B hospitals treat 64 percent more Medicaid and low-income Medicare patients than non-340B providers. The 340B hospitals also provide more vital but money-losing services critical to disadvantaged patients like labor and delivery, trauma, and HIV/AIDS care.

The story wrongly implies that provision of charity care is the only way to tell if a 340B hospital measures up. In fact, a large number of 340B hospital patients are on Medicaid, which chronically underpays. Many others are underinsured. As a result, 340B hospitals are responsible for 60 percent of all hospital uncompensated care even though they account for just 36 percent of all Medicare acute-care hospitals.

No hospital is getting rich off of 340B discounts. All are working hard to stretch their dollars, serve more patients, and improve services – just as Congress and President Bush intended when they created the 340B program 25 years ago.