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LETTERS for the May 13 issue

By Staff | May 14, 2021

Increase indoor capacity to help restaurants

(The following letter was sent to state and county officials.)

With the new requirement in mid-May of having visitors take a secondary Covid test, we need to revisit the 30 percent indoor capacity guidelines. Since there will now be more proof that visitors are not positive for the virus, it only seems reasonable that we open up our indoor capacities to 75 percent immediately, and 100 percent in 30 days if the positivity rate stays low.

This is a victory for all involved: more tax revenue for county and state government; increased employment for the people of Maui; hopefully, a continued increase for the people of Maui receiving vaccinations, to not be susceptible to the virus; a reduction in stress for both visitors and local residents in both shopping and dining and waiting in line to receive an experience that Maui has become known for.

We also need to follow the CDC guidelines for the elimination of wearing masks in public. Mr. Mayor, for the past year you have been stating “follow the science.”

The CDC just issued new guidelines, and your reply is ” I don’t agree?” Please be consistent with your decisions. Allow the people to not wear masks outdoors.

I do understand we also need a plan for acceptable visitor accountabilities to folks coming to our home. We also need accountability for the residents who continue to treat our home as a dumpster.

Let’s put this as a VITAL challenge, that we all need to find a solution for the future.

Let’s do what is right and open our business to the visitors and residents who choose to spend their paychecks on our island.

BUFF WEAVER, Buff Weaver Hospitality

Reduce meat consumption to battle global warming

So, I heard on Fox News that President Biden may be banning meat to combat global warming.

Then I remembered that Colorado Democrat Gov. Jared Polis had issued a similar proclamation last month.

My first reaction was, what kind of cockamamie idea will the Democrats cook up next? But then I read the article they quoted, and it made a bit more sense.

Apparently, a University of Michigan research report found that replacing 50 percent of animal products with plant-based foods would prevent more than 1.6 billion tons of greenhouse gasses by 2030, which is Biden’s target date for a 50 percent reduction in emissions.

Another article I found in The Guardian argues that animal farming is a major driver of climate change, as well as air and water pollution, soil depletion and destruction of wildlife habitats.

It’s possible that, in an environmentally sustainable world, we may eventually need to replace meat and other animal products with vegetables, fruits and grains, just as we replace fossil fuels with wind, solar and other renewable energy sources.

I may look and see what the Internet and my local supermarket have to offer in terms of plant-based meat products.


Preserve employer-sponsored health insurance

Congress is contemplating its next move on health care. As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, billions of dollars in subsidies are on their way to those who purchase individual coverage through the exchanges. Many lawmakers now want to turn to legislation that would create a public health insurance option.

Most Americans get coverage for themselves and their families through their jobs. They like it. Under a public option, they could eventually lose it.

One analysis of a public option plan introduced in the House in 2019 found that it would have caused nearly one in four workers to lose employer-sponsored health coverage by 2023. By 2032, it would have deprived one in three of job-based coverage. A public option would siphon people away from employer-sponsored insurance because it could provide coverage more cheaply than private insurers. Unlike private plans that must negotiate payment rates with healthcare providers, a public plan would have the power to dictate the prices it would pay doctors and hospitals.

That’s exactly what our nation’s existing public health plans, Medicare and Medicaid, do. Total enrollment in the two programs approaches 140 million people. That means they insure more than two in five Americans.

With that kind of clout, Medicare and Medicaid significantly underpay providers. The two programs pay hospitals just 87 cents and 89 cents, respectively, for every dollar in cost they incur caring for the programs’ beneficiaries. Those underpayments totaled nearly $76 billion in 2019.

Providers compensate by charging private insurers more. A study from the RAND Corp. found private health plans pay hospitals 247 percent of what Medicare would pay for the same service, on average.

Adding a low-paying public option to the mix would force providers to shift yet more of their costs onto private plans. Private insurers couldn’t simply absorb those additional costs. Their margins are already thin. The cost of care eats up 80 percent to 90 percent of every premium dollar. Higher costs for private insurers would mean higher premiums and deductibles for employers and patients.

Some employers would respond by dropping coverage and directing their employees to the public option. Privately insured individuals would do the same. And the cycle would repeat, until the public option had pushed private health plans out of the market.

So adding a public option is not, as its proponents assert, a way to expand consumer choice or inject new competition into the health insurance market. Instead, it would reduce consumers’ choices and destroy the insurance market.

Employer-sponsored insurance has been at the heart of the U.S. healthcare system for decades. And it’s popular. Seven in ten people with job-based coverage give their plan a grade of “A” or “B,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Congress should listen to these folks — and not take any action that would harm our system of employer-sponsored health plans.

JANET TRAUTWEIN, National Association of Health Underwriters