Consequences of health-care ruling

So a federal judge in Virginia has decided more or less that the federal government cannot mandate that citizens must purchase health insurance ("Part of health law is voided," Tuesday). The next logical step would be that insurance for cars or homes cannot be required.

A consequence of the judge's ruling is that those who currently have health insurance should drop it. After all, health insurers now tell you that even with precertification they may determine after the procedure if you are paying the bill. (Only in America could we have a system of insurance that has an out if the insured are sick.) And what happens after we all drop our coverage? When you're ill, go to the local hospital, sign the financial responsibility form, have treatment, and go home. If this is deregulation bring it on! I cannot wait to save all those wasted premiums!

Joel H. Beldner

Glenmoore

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Brokers help navigate system

Consumers depend on insurance agents to help them navigate the increasingly complicated insurance marketplace ("Medical insurance brokers face rules squeeze," Dec. 8). Assurant Health found that 64 percent of consumers who purchased individual medical insurance through a professional agent described their experiences as "helpful." Only 36 percent of those who purchased online said the same.

Small businesses rely on brokers' expertise, too. According to the Congressional Budget Office, brokers often "handle the responsibilities that larger firms generally delegate to their human-resources departments - such as finding plans and negotiating premiums, providing information about the selected plans, and processing enrollees."

Jettisoning agents could lead to widespread confusion - and force people to spend more than they should on health insurance.

Janet Trautwein

Executive Vice President and CEO

National Association

of Health Underwriters

Arlington

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Great ball club and community leaders

As a lifetime Phillies fan, I couldn't be happier about the acquisition of Cliff Lee ("Happy reunion," Wednesday). And what a testament to a "good guy" to forgo the dollars to do what he wants to do.

However, there is more to the Phillies than that. I had the pleasure of attending the annual Phillies Charities Holiday Party Monday night, and left inspired and humbled by the myriad of wonderful organizations doing fabulous work in our community. What does not get enough ink is that the Phillies, through their charity arm, support all of these marvelous groups.

So let's all continue to root for the Phillies, not just because they bring us summers of great baseball, but because they are truly outstanding, caring, and committed members of our region.

Jim Pinciotti

Blue Bell

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What Sinatra would sing to Lee

Regarding the return of Cliff Lee (Wednesday), as Frank Sinatra would croon, "Love is lovelier the second time around."

Jules Slatko

Holland

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The power of modern medicine

As a pediatrician, I was horrified by the story of 2-year-old Kent Schaible, who died because his parents believed in the power of prayer rather than the power of medicine ("Praying couple are guilty in son's death," Saturday). But I am not surprised.

Almost every day, I talk with parents who either don't believe in immunizations or believe that they are associated with autism or other terrible side effects. These erroneous assertions have been disproven many times now, but people have not learned how to assess data in a rational and thoughtful way, nor to figure out what data are based on fact and what on half-truths and rumors.

While modern medicine is far from perfect, and antibiotics are sometimes overused, anyone can become aware of the fact that only one or two generations ago, people died in large numbers from diphtheria (prevented by the DPT vaccine), were born deaf because their mothers contracted German measles while pregnant, or died of scarlet fever because penicillin hadn't been invented to treat their strep infections.

Dr. Barbara W. Gold

Philadelphia

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Teacher tenure is about due process

The editorial "Firing bad teachers" (Monday) describes tenure as "a lifetime appointment in the classroom." In New Jersey, tenure is due process. For the first three years in the classroom, teachers can be dismissed without reason. On the first day of their fourth year, teachers receive tenure - which means that they achieve due-process rights, i.e., they cannot be dismissed without a documented reason. Granted, this takes time and adds to the burden of the administrator, but there should be little problem documenting incompetence.

As we debate the changes needed in our educational system, let's be careful about distortions of the "facts."

Kathleen Iannacone

Williamstown

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Seems it's always the teachers' fault

Your "Up to teachers" editorial (Tuesday) could have been a single sentence: Since we can't improve parents, we will continue to blame teachers.

Michael Mannella

Philadelphia