Nursing home residents, not owners, need advocate

I read the Sept. 11 article “Sebelius’s former lieutenant now leading fight for nursing home funding” with great interest as well as a lot of concern. 

As an advocate for the prevention of elder abuse, starting in 1982 after the untimely death of my aunt in a California nursing home, I was appalled to read that Mark Parkinson, the former governor of Kansas, was a past nursing home operator and now the president of the American Health Care Association (AHCA), the trade organization for nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in this country. Our elderly citizens in nursing homes do not have the power or strength that the nursing home industry wields. Over the past several years, many news organizations have published articles regarding the lack of oversight in this industry, the lack of enforcement for violations of federal and state nursing home regulations and the continual financial growth of nursing home operators. Of course, Parkinson stated that he wouldn’t be back in Washington running any other trade association. His ownership of nursing homes made him a very wealthy man ... in fact, in all the years of doing this advocacy work, I have never met a poor nursing home operator, but I have met approximately 4,000 families who have had loved ones be subjected to poor care and abuse in long-term care settings with little to no accountability on the part of the industry. 

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Another statement by Parkinson was that his industry doesn’t expect — or receive — any preferential treatment. Does he really think people believe that! Citizens in this country should be aware of the fact that because the majority of nursing home payments come from our tax dollars (namely Medicare and Medicaid), we as tax payers are paying for elder abuse in these facilities, and the government is protecting the industry rather than our most vulnerable citizens, who helped build this country. 

From Carole Herman, president of the Foundation Aiding The Elderly (FATE), Sacramento, Calif.


Corn ethanol mandate hurting the environment

A Sept. 21 opinion article titled “Renewable Fuel Standard flexibility needed” by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) highlights a few reasons to roll back our government’s massive mandate for corn ethanol. There is another even more important reason: Corn ethanol production harms the environment and hastens climate change, which is making droughts like the one this summer more frequent. 

The National Academy of Sciences has found that the use of corn ethanol in engine fuel increases air pollution responsible for asthma, lung disease and heart attacks. Fertilizer runoff from corn ethanol production pollutes water, driving the growth of a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, an area the size of New Jersey, in which aquatic life cannot survive. The Environmental Protection Agency’s own data shows that corn ethanol production results in more greenhouse gas emissions than traditional gasoline.

Congress might not be able to change the weather, as Goodlatte and Costa note, but they must take steps to reduce climate pollution and protect our natural resources. Ending the Renewable Fuel Standard’s mandate for corn ethanol would be an important first step.

From Michal Rosenoer, Biofuels policy campaigner, Washington, D.C.


Romney can’t relate to average Americans

Mitt Romney’s lifelong drive to be president has reached the end of the line. Politics stops at our country’s border when we are attacked by a foreign enemy. To attack President Obama during the midst of the action without knowing the facts is no quality we expect from our president. Attempting to make political gain will probably eliminate him from any chance to win in November. 

I have always thought that Mitt is an “empty suit.” Born well and given all the privileges life can offer does not a leader make. For any woman, soldier, middle-class working American and anyone with the average net worth in America of $57,000 to vote for a genuine 1 percent rich guy whose average net worth is $16 million is not only voting against their best interests but against all common sense. Not only can’t he relate to you, he has no idea of who you are and what your life is about. 

From Norm Stewart, Aventura, Fla.


Only money matters in today’s politics

In the midst of this political season, I am disappointingly struck by the tremendous amount of money being spent on two presidential campaigns and other federal, state and local campaigns.

Considering how most of the salaries for these political offices pale in comparison to the money spent to gain them, I truly believe that most Americans have taken off their blinders to realize just how much under-handedness and corruption exists in all levels of our government. Americans are no longer idealistic or faithful about our government officials being pure and willing to go all out to help each and every citizen regardless of financial status. There can be no doubt that money buys access to government policies, and therefore campaign contributions are, in actuality, investments in rich and powerful peoples’ futures!

Is there any wonder why so many voters don’t bother to vote? 

From Timothy Monroe Bledsoe, North Augusta, S.C.