Facing metro Atlanta’s challenges

I was pleased to see both the AJC Editorial Board and Jay Bookman give consideration to Atlanta’s future (“Reading the Horizon,” “Fixing what ails the ATL,” Opinion, Feb. 15). Most realize that one of the biggest challenges for future development is public transportation, which must be addressed sooner, not later, if Atlanta is to flourish. Improvements to and support of MARTA will improve our air quality, physical health and well-being, reduce congestion on our roads and, most importantly, reduce our carbon footprint. Ease of access to various parts of the metro area is important to the economy. The state’s economy will also be improved by support of renewable energy sources and technologies.


Patient-centered health care needed

Recently, columnist Jay Bookman published his latest criticism of U.S. Rep. Tom Price’s Empowering Patients First Act (“Testing GOP’s plan,” Opinion, Feb. 8). Dr. Price supports an open, honest debate on these important issues. There were glaring inaccuracies in Bookman’s assessment:

1.) Allowing the sale of health insurance across state lines is a small supplement to a much larger expansion of affordable access in Dr. Price’s bill. Individual Membership Associations (IMAs) will allow anyone to join a large group to pool together to receive lower prices and better coverage. This gives individuals and small employers the same purchasing power and privileges as large groups and corporations.

2.) Dr. Price’s medical malpractice reform does not place a limit on non-economic damages; he establishes best practice guidelines set by doctors and science for evaluation and treatment of medical conditions, allowing them to be used as an affirmative defense to save hundreds of billions of dollars in unnecessary care.

3.) Affordable care is particularly important to those who have pre-existing conditions. Rather than rely on high-risk pools, Dr. Price’s bill sunsets that provision in favor of IMAs that give patients the power to afford the coverage they want, not what Washington forces them to buy.

The Empowering Patients First Act puts patients, families and doctors in charge, not government. Any costs would be offset — including refundable tax credits that even Bookman identified as a good idea.


Cochran should pack up and leave

Why doesn’t it surprise me that former Fire Chief Cochran has filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and all of its taxpayers (“Former Atlanta fire chief sues,” Metro, Feb. 19)? By his logic, he breaks the rules, publicly refuses to follow his bosses’ instructions, gets fired for it, and for some odd reason he deserves a big payday from the city for his troubles. The notion that this is a free speech issue is a joke and should be offensive to anyone who actually cares about freedom of speech. This guy was fired for his actions, not his beliefs.

I have a hard time with the idea that Mayor Reed is discriminating against Mr. Cochran over religious beliefs they more or less share. The guy got into a public “stare-down” with his boss, refused to blink, and rightly he lost. I think the noble thing for Mr. Cochran to do would be to pack up his gear and quietly move on. But as we all are unfortunate enough to be witnessing, Mr. Cochran doesn’t appear to have that in mind.

For me, the only thing worse than having to hear more about this ordeal, is that the city of Atlanta will wind up paying millions of dollars (mostly to lawyers) for a glorified religious pamphlet that should have been distributed according to the rules put in place to avoid religious discrimination in the workplace.