LETTERS for January 5 issue
What Trump voters do not understand
Delicately referring to Donald Trump to a friend or even a stranger, the response I get is pretty much always dismay. This comes from Republicans, Democrats and independents.
Trump does have some good ideas. Spending for more infrastructure. Helping the underemployed and the job displaced. Tapping into these feelings is the main reason he won.
When Reagan was elected, Nixon, maybe even President Obama, if you opposed him, people were not afraid. People’s fear of what Trump will do and the protest marching are unprecedented. We fear our democracy will be lost because Trump doesn’t understand our Constitution and still holds rallies – even after election – that look like Nazi Germany.
Strident crowds that cry “Lock Her Up,” excited to fever pitch by Trump, remind many of the way Adolph Hitler used to rile up crowds. The German people voted him into office, too.
Trump makes knee jerk decisions. We fear his hand on the nuclear button and communicating complicated issues with tweeting on arms expansion and other delicate matters.
We fear cabinet picks will set us back many years. Global warming is real. We need an EPA head who advocates for the environment, not opposes controls, and not an energy head who thinks that department should be abolished, and not Ben Carson, who knows nothing about housing.
We fear Wall Street fat cats and billionaires in the cabinet, who want fewer controls on financial markets and more tax breaks for the one percent. We fear cozying up to Russia. We fear White House aides who have said outrageous things, and a bully disrespectful of women as a role model for kids. And we fear much more.
Stay vigilant, America. Write/urge GOP leaders to vote against poor cabinet choices. I have.
NORM BEZANE, Kaanapali
Make a New Year’s resolution to eat healthy
The coming New Year’s resolution should be pretty obvious, particularly when it comes to diet: 2017 will go down in history as the year when plant-based meats have revolutionized the food industry.
A dozen start-ups, led by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, are creating plant-based burgers and other meats that are more delicious, convenient and healthy than the old-fashioned animal-based variety. They are backed by tech industry pioneers like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Google principals Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Even animal meat behemoth Tyson Foods has announced a $150 million venture capital fund to explore and invest in these products.
The plant-based food revolution is going mainstream. Hundreds of school, college, hospital and corporate cafeterias have embraced Meatless Monday. Fast-food chains Chipotle, Panera, Subway and Taco Bell are rolling out plant-based dinner options.
And American consumers are responding, with fully one third reducing their intake of animal-based meats, milks and other food products.
Let’s make this New Year’s resolution about exploring the rich variety of delicious, convenient, healthy plant-based dinners, lunch meats, cheeses, milks and ice creams available in every supermarket. The Internet offers tons of recipes and transition tips.
LESTER NAITO, Lahaina
Obama could make history with statehood vote
Hawaii was overthrown on Jan. 17, 1893. In response to this atrocity, Obama could make history, this January, enacting a righteous executive order. “Righteousness exalts a nation.”
The United Nations has taken an interest in the manner of Hawaii’s “decolonization.”
Hawaii’s statehood vote deserves a “do-over.” It doesn’t reflect the wishes of the indigenous people. Self-interests of Americans and immigrant-workforce ancestors tainted the vote. It proved a clever means to decolonize Hawaii without international outrage.
A legitimate vote by native and part-native Hawaiians is possible with today’s DNA technology.
The Native Hawaiian people should be afforded the rights to self-determination, self-governance and self-sufficiency with freedom from tyranny and oppression.
Liliuokalani wrote: “I yielded my authority to the forces of the United States in order to avoid bloodshed, and because I recognized the futility of a conflict with so formidable a power. My people have in no way been consulted by those who claim the right to destroy the independence of Hawaii. Therefore I, Liliuokalani of Hawaii, implore the people of this great and good nation, from whom my ancestors learned the Christian religion, to sustain their representatives in such acts of justice and equity as may be in accord with the principles of their fathers, and to the Almighty Ruler of the universe, to Him who judgeth righteously, I commit my cause.”
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” – Benjamin Franklin.
To keep a “great nation,” we foremost need to be a “good nation.”
Do what is right!
MICHELE LINCOLN, Lahaina
How much will my Medicare cost in 2017?
Like private health insurance, Medicare has premiums, deductibles and co-pays. These costs can – and often do – change from year to year. What you actually pay depends on your work history, income and inflation.
Only about one percent of people with Medicare pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospitalization, skilled nursing care and some home health services. That’s because they paid Medicare paycheck deductions for 40 quarters or longer during their working lives.
Most people do, however, pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor fees, outpatient treatment, durable medical equipment and other items. Part B premiums are rising for next year, but for most people, the increase won’t be very much.
The law protects most seniors from Part B premium hikes if the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in their Social Security benefit doesn’t go up in a given year. Since the Social Security COLA for 2017 will be 0.3 percent, about 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will pay an average Part B premium of $109 per month in 2017. That’s up from $104.90 for the past four years.
The remaining 30 percent of Medicare’s 58 million beneficiaries will pay the standard Part B premium of $134 for 2017, a 10 percent increase over the 2016 premium of $121.80.
This smaller group is not protected under the statutory “hold harmless” provision linked to the Social Security COLA. It includes people who don’t receive Social Security benefits; enroll in Part B for the first time in 2017; are directly billed for their Part B premium; are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid and have their premiums paid by a state agency; and pay higher premiums based on their higher incomes.
This year, as in the past, the government has worked to lessen projected premium increases for these beneficiaries, while maintaining a prudent level of reserves to protect against unexpected costs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will work with Congress as it explores budget-neutral solutions to challenges created by the “hold harmless” provision.
Part B also has an annual deductible, which will rise to $183 in 2017 (compared with $166 in 2016). After your deductible is met, you typically pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for most doctor services (including most doctor services while you’re a hospital inpatient), outpatient therapy and durable medical equipment.
The Part A deductible, which you pay when admitted to the hospital, will be $1,316 per benefit period in 2017, up from $1,288 in 2016. This deductible covers your share of costs for the first 60 days of Medicare-covered inpatient hospital care in a benefit period.
People with Medicare pay coinsurance of $329 per day for the 61st through 90th day of hospitalization ($322 in 2016) in a benefit period, and $658 per day for lifetime reserve days ($644 in in 2016).
For beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities, the coinsurance for days 21 through 100 in a benefit period will be $164.50 in 2017 (versus $161 in 2016).
Since 2007, higher-income people with Medicare have paid higher Part B premiums. These income-indexed rates affect about five percent of people with Medicare. So, for example, a person with Medicare who files an individual tax return showing an income between $85,000 and $107,000 will pay a Part B premium of $187.50 per month next year.
Some people choose to get their benefits through privately-operated Medicare Advantage health plans, or purchase a Medicare Part D plan to help cover their prescription drug costs. Many of these plans carry their own monthly premiums.
For more information about 2017 premiums and deductibles, go to www.medicare.gov, or call Medicare any time of day or night, at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
CATE KORTZEBORN, Medicare’s Acting Regional Administrator for Hawaii