LETTERS for July 30 issue
Taxpayers footing the bill for welfare abuse
The United States’ welfare program was designed to help those who have the misfortune of poverty in their lifetime. Greed and dishonesty enter the picture, and a generation of abusers.
Girls get pregnant and can leave home early, not having to expose the could-be fathers. Nobody gets involved as long as the taxpayers are footing the bills.
Children having children, or young adults with little education and no work experience, are abusing the system with an attitude of “the more children you have, the bigger the monthly checks.”
Where minors are concerned, the soon to be grandparents should be given a choice: find out who is responsible (besides the young mother), or DNA testing should be mandatory before the monthly checks start coming in.
If the DNA tested father is a minor also, that means his parents are going to help out with their new grandchildren. Tough love is necessary, and it will usually work.
I love children as much as anyone else, but I don’t like to see so many children grow up without a father. You young fathers get tested, and you might feel closer to your offspring, step up to the plate and help raise a more loving generation.
Trust me – I know what I’m talking about. You will feel better knowing your children are really yours.
ENRIQUE GUZMAN, Lahaina
New solutions needed to reduce gun violence
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 16,121 homicides in the United States in 2013. More than 11,000 of those killings were caused by firearms.
What better way is there to teach our children that all lives matter?
Now is the time for peace. Violent crime inflicts a heavy economic and emotional burden on our development as a country. Violence costs taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year, including medical care, court fees and incarcerations.
Why not give people a way to vent their aggression in a controlled manner before more lives are tragically cut short?
In order to ensure a safer future for our children, we must end this vicious cycle of retribution and revenge killings plaguing this country.
Let us start by investing in change.
Gyms and recreational centers across America could start open-house programs that would take people off the streets and bring them into safer environments to settle their disputes.
Let us also build community and recreational centers where there are none to provide a safer alternative than street justice.
Rather than the serious injuries that street fights almost always guarantee, both participants in boxing or mixed martial arts challenges will walk away, because these conflicts come with rules, referees, gloves, headgear, mouthpieces and other protective measures in place.
Matches will be fair, one-on-one contests that only take place after all efforts by mentors to reach peace without a fight are exhausted. Every person has free will to choose to take part in a match and can quit at any time.
None of these matches will be spectacles, either. Only two participants, referees and mentors will be allowed at the closed matches.
When they are completed, they will have more respect for one another. They will also have built a bond that will allow them to realize that they have more in common than either of them originally thought.
This will bring enemies closer, unite them over common ground and create new friendships among groups from all sides.
We also can expand buyback or trade programs that take dangerous weapons out of the equation and replace them with equipment such as boxing gloves and lessons.
Let us all join in this righteous effort to establish peace right here at home. America can and will be a symbol of unity and harmony for the world.
GARRETT & RUSSELL COLLINS, Orange City, Florida
Attorneys general should address medical ID theft pandemic
When top state law enforcement officers gathered in Maui for the annual three-day convention of the Conference of Western Attorneys General on July 19-22, a critical component of the discussion was the need to curb the burgeoning problem of medical identity theft. The western attorneys general should give cybersecurity the serious attention it deserves, if for no other reason that it is growing fastest in their front yard, the Pacific and Western region of our country.
According to the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance’s (MIFA) Fifth Annual Study of Medical Identity Theft, the Pacific-West Region saw its share of the nation’s medical identity theft cases rise to 17 percent of the nation’s total in fiscal year 2014, up from just 11 percent two years earlier. The corresponding shares in the other five regions of the nation’s total number of medical identity theft cases either held steady or were up or down only slightly.
Earlier this year, an estimated 18,000 current and former members of the Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state’s largest health insurer, discovered their personal information had been stolen during a cyberattack on Anthem Inc., a Blue Cross-Blue Shield plan that serves residents of 14 states.
According to the MIFA study, medical identity theft nationally rose nearly 22 percent in the previous year – an increase of nearly a half-million victims since 2013. In 2014 alone, medical ID theft cost consumers more than $20 billion in out-of-pocket costs.
All forms of identity theft (e.g., bank-account fraud and credit-card fraud) can be costly to those who fall victim to it, but medical identity theft potentially can be life-threatening as well.
Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses an individual’s name and personal identity to fraudulently receive medical services, prescription drugs and/or other goods. But when that happens, the blowback is that your lifetime medical records become tainted with incorrect information. That could result in misdiagnosis and treatment based on a medical condition you don’t have, or you could be prescribed a drug you don’t need and that could injure or kill you. A blood transfusion based on an incorrect blood type could prove fatal.
Less lethal, perhaps, but problematic in its own right is that when medical records are hacked, individuals’ most personal and private information – about substance-abuse treatment, mental health or reproductive issues, or HIV diagnoses, for example – is compromised, and the psychological damage can be irreparable.
With government reforms pressing doctors and hospitals to make vastly expanded use of electronic medical records, the problem of medical identity theft is only likely to continue to explode. That’s because in many cases, the shift has been occurring even though there hasn’t been enough time to identify and establish sufficiently strong safeguards and controls.
When bank or credit card breaches occur, the standard response of the institutions affected is to offer their victimized customers a year or two of free credit monitoring. Attorneys general should be commended for leading the charge in standardizing these services. But monitoring credit reports or financial transactions won’t alert victims to someone using their health information to obtain treatment or file a claim in their name, so victims can commence corrective – and protective – action as soon as possible.
CHRISTINE AREVALO, ID Experts
Support the Equality Act
A few months ago, I stood on the steps of the Supreme Court with marriage equality supporters from across the country as the court heard oral arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges case – the landmark case that would decide if marriage equality would be legal across the country. The advocates I met that day were full of hope.
Last month, when the court ruled that marriage equality is the law of the land – in all 50 states – I remembered all of those wonderful people I met just a few months earlier.
However, despite significant advances in equality over the past several years, LGBT people across the country still remain vulnerable to discrimination.
The LGBT community deserves the same protections we currently extend to all Americans based on gender, race and religion.
That’s why I’m a proud co-sponsor of the Equality Act, which was introduced last week in the Senate. Will you sign on and support this bill today?
By prohibiting discrimination of LGBT people through the Equality Act, we can provide protection for millions of people. It’s the right thing to do.
In 1998, as the lieutenant governor of Hawaii, I was proud to stand with the LGBT community and oppose an anti-same-sex marriage amendment that would deny rights to gay and lesbian couples. And over a decade later, in 2013, Hawaii signed marriage equality into law. It was a great moment and a step forward.
But our work is far from done, and the fight for equality for all Americans continues. We need to pass the Equality Act to give the LGBT community the protections they need and deserve.
Thank you for lending your support to this next step in the fight for progress.
MAZIE HIRONO, U.S. Senator