Letters to the editor-12-11-2013

December 11, 2013 

Idaho Power

Robert Ehlert's editorial of Dec. 4, stating that coal is Idaho Power's only reliable, affordable option, and referring to advocacy for alternatives as a "tantrum," reflects his short time and lack of experience in Idaho.

In the '70s, Idaho Power tried to build a coal fired plant on the Snake River. Leaders like Connely Ward, Cecil Andrus, and Al Fothergill stopped them. We now know that the Pioneer Plant would have been a financial and air quality disaster.

Yet, unlike other utility companies, Idaho Power persists in laying most of its eggs in the coal basket.

The company's economic analysis, that Mr. Ehlert contends demonstrates that alternatives aren't practical, has critical facts and figures redacted from the public, and doesn't deal in depth with any alternatives, except gas.

It is well known that some of Idaho Power's top brass is "agnostic" about global warming and climate change. If coal is the only practical alternative they see, it is because they are behind the times and haven't been aggressively looking elsewhere.

Among many other places, Mr. Ehlert and Idaho Power can visit snakeriveralliance.org for guidance on where our publicly regulated utilities ought to be focusing their energy and our money.

BRENT MARCHBANKS, Boise

I'm one of many citizens who cares about what we're doing to our future, to our kids and grandkids when we continue to support fossil fuel energy.

I think Idaho Power jumped the gun trying to pour more money into a "dying" coal fired burning plant such as the Jim Bridger plant.

People are asking Idaho Power to slow down and take one step at a time toward sustainable energy resources. Citizens who spoke up at the hearing were not throwing a "tantrum" as Mr. Ehlert said in his editorial. They were participating in a citizen's forum, expressing concerns for the environment and those who live on it.

Customers of Idaho Power have been getting cheap power and wish to continue to have that luxury but is it really worth it? There are hidden costs such as more health care bills. Where is the savings in that? My husband developed asthma later in life and his medicine for three months was nearly $1,000. Is Idaho Power going to pay my husband's drug bills? We're asking Idaho Power to invest in energy that sustains life and not in energy that continues to be harmful for the planet and human life.

CAROL STIRLING, Boise

Medicaid & Idaho

USA Today did a story on the Commonwealth Fund's analysis of the detrimental effects on red states that reject Medicaid expansion. The study pretty much proved that such states are shooting themselves in the foot just to spite the president, and showed that the impact will be greater than previously thought.

Not only are Republican governors leaving millions of citizens without health coverage, they are hurting their own economies. Idaho is throwing away half a billion dollars that we could have injected into our state economy.

If Boise politicians would take the new Medicaid dollars that the ACA set aside for Idaho families, we could save $500 million over the next 10 years, taking pressure off our state budget, freeing up funds for important priorities like education, and reducing local property taxes. A win-win situation. Not to mention covering 100,000 low-income workers with insurance and peace of mind, so that they can stop using our emergency rooms for their primary care.

Delaying six months beyond Jan. 1 will cost Idaho taxpayers an estimated $41 million, according to Gov. Butch Otter's own Medicaid Expansion Workgroup. Why keep paying for the other states while not getting the benefits for ourselves?

SHERRIE GOFF, Pocatello

I didn't believe it. My friends didn't believe it. However, when I signed up for "Obamacare," I found out that I fall into a Kafkaesque loophole in the law. I received a message that said, "Tax credits are only available to people who make between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level."

Oh, too bad I'm unemployed and my income is under the poverty level. Because Idaho refuses to expand Medicaid, I can't get health insurance. Sorry, I can buy health insurance - I just can't pay for it. Not the case if I lived in Washington or Oregon where logic seems to prevail.

I suppose Gov. Otter is terrified of the health care reform litmus test imposed on him by the tea party because Idaho wouldn't even have to pay for an expansion of Medicaid. The federal government would cover the cost! Why wouldn't he simply do it?

No, I guess our politicians in Boise would prefer someone as young, overeducated, and underemployed like me continue to struggle under the poverty line. This is idiotic and cruel, but President Obama should also take responsibility for enabling such a ridiculous loophole to occur.

Real health reform means Medicare for all.

JACOB HILL, Idaho Falls

Health care

The Idaho Statesman article on health care on Dec. 3 clearly points out that many hospitals are gouging the American people and their insurance companies. Hospitals provide a necessary public service, as do electric power and gas companies.

Shouldn't hospitals fall under the jurisdiction of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC)? If they were regulated by the PUC. Then PUC health care cost experts could standardize the hospital Chargemaster document to reflect realistic costs. A specific hospital could request the PUC to change a Chargemaster item but would be required to justify the request with cost documentation.

PUC regulation of hospitals would be a giant step toward affordable health care in America.

CARL R. BOEHME, Boise

Crapo

I want to commend Sen. Crapo for his leadership on the Senate Banking Committee on behalf of the people of Idaho.

After the housing bubble burst, some in Washington, D.C., decided to go down a path of spending and bailouts that put taxpayers at risk. But thankfully, in the case of the bailout of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the taxpayers will soon be repaid in full.

However, I fear that efforts to reform Freddie and Fannie are flawed. There are many retirees who still have investments in these entities and the U.S. Treasury is taking GSE dividends that belong to retirees. Under legislation, retirees will never be paid back by the government. And it is possible that access to the 30-year mortgage could be eliminated. That is not a legacy we should leave our children.

It is my hope that Sen. Crapo will stand up for us in the Senate, protect retiree investments, and ensure strong home ownership opportunities for the next generation as efforts to reform these government sponsored enterprises continue to develop.

NADINE CURTIS, Meridian

Military pay

Actions speak louder than words. In his Thanksgiving address, President Obama gave praise to our men and women in uniform with well-deserved thanks for all their sacrifices to maintain our freedoms. However, it was recently announced the president plans to use his executive authority to limit the 2014 military pay raise at 1 percent rather than the 1.8 percent provided under law. Really? Thanks?

J. CRAIG MCCARTER, Boise

Atheist churches

In response to your "Mega-churches of atheists take root across U.S., world," first let me say that these atheists do have a right to assemble, but they are certainly not "churches."

A church is a group of Christians who come together to worship God. Atheists are not Christians, and they don't believe in God, so their assembly cannot be called a church.

JAMES RICHARD, Emmett

Statins

A Nov. 13 article in the Idaho Statesman - Doctors: Cholesterol drugs need wider use talks about new guidelines for stroke and heart attack prevention, calling for a third of adults to take statins. The cholesterol panel advice would raise statin recommendation from 15 percent of our adult population to 44 percent of men and 22 percent of women.

Just for reference - about half the cholesterol panel members have financial ties to makers of heart drugs, but panel leaders said no one with industry connections could vote on the recommendations.

A quote from the article: "Most cholesterol is made by the liver, so diet changes have a limited effect on it." That is false. Drs. Dean Ornish , Caldwell Essylstein, John McDougall and Joel Fuhrman routinely lower patients cholesterol with a whole foods, plant based diet (vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds). Almost everyone following this diet will change all of their lipid panel numbers in the right direction.

The article drastically overstates the benefits and drastically understates the risk of statins. There are a number of web videos for the real science regarding these drugs. You may end up believing that statins are already over prescribed.

PATRICK KARTES, Boise

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