Jammed

down our throats

I am really tired of hearing the talking heads in Congress telling me that "the people" want their version of health care.

No, the people do not want this bloated, overreaching, overpriced, budget-busting plan. It is a huge payoff for the politicians.

If the plan is so great, why are the leaders of the Senate having to pay off their colleagues with so much pork? They will have spent billions of dollars just to get the plan narrowly passed. This is a widely accepted plan? I think not.

In the world of real people, this is called bribery. In Congress, I guess it's not a crime if you're using (as former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo would say) "other people's money" - namely, my money and yours. We will repay this debt next November.

John F. Bielicki

Philadelphia

Health-care bill

will cost Pa.

Congress gave President Obama the Christmas gift he has long coveted - sweeping health-care reform. Unfortunately, this amounts to a big lump of coal in Pennsylvania's stocking.

The Senate bill raises the income eligibility for Medicaid. This "reform" will increase costs for Pennsylvania and 38 other states that have eligibility cutoffs below the one proposed in the federal legislation. Pennsylvania will be the second-hardest-hit state, having to pay an estimated $1.5 billion more.

Furthermore, health insurance premiums would increase dramatically - by as much as 54 percent for families and individuals, according to a Blue Cross-Blue Shield report. A Commonwealth Foundation study indicates that the reform will cost individuals an additional $4,000-plus a year. The Senate version of the bill mandates "community rating" and "guaranteed issue" for all insurance providers, regulations that will drive up health insurance premiums significantly.

It is for these reasons that Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska - reportedly the clinching vote to advance the bill - sold his support for increased federal subsidies and Medicaid exemptions for his state. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and Arlen Specter turned a blind eye to this "sausage-making." Pennsylvanians are thus on the hook for higher state and federal taxes and higher insurance premiums, while paying for the giveaway to Nebraska.

Michael J. Nerozzi

Commonwealth Foundation

Harrisburg

McCain proved

to be a politician

Perhaps the most disappointing character in the health-care debate is Sen. John McCain. Throughout his presidential bid, he styled himself a maverick, championing the cause of pork-free legislation. Yet, when the opportunity came to act on his beliefs, he failed to follow through - a helpless voice in the wind, with more bark than bite.

Why did McCain let Sen. Ben Nelson wrest so much power for himself, when it was McCain, the inveterate reformer, who could have been that 60th vote? He could have traded his vote for an add-on-free bill: No special giveaways to the state of Nebraska. No special provisions for this or that hospital. No irrelevant items not directly related to the health-care agenda.

Granted, McCain may not have agreed with much of the legislation. But he could have parlayed his power for the cause in which he believed. Sen. McCain, you're just another partisan politician.

Kenneth Goldberg

Cherry Hill

Who will help

victims of rape?

I was shocked, hurt, and revolted by the news about police departments neglecting to test rape kits. I am a victim of rape, and this editorial ("Consider the evidence," Dec. 21) did not inspire any confidence in police departments.

I have had to live with this pain for four years as I battle with the aftermath of being raped. I never went to the police because I was too scared. I did not know if going to the police would even be helpful.

Now it appears I was right. This news did not make me feel any better. Now I fear for future victims - those who are strong enough to go to the police. Now my faith is dwindling.

I want somebody out there to start helping us, because so far it feels as if we are alone. If the police will not even do their job, then who will help us? This is not just about nailing a rapist; this is about providing hope and security for victims.

Kirsten Boyer

Wayne