Letters to the editor (05/12/12)

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Teachers are key to children’s future
Editor:
The week of May 6 is designated as Teacher Appreciation Week, a time to celebrate and thank the amazing teachers in our public schools who make a difference every day.
I have traveled the state, talking with teachers and am so impressed with the quality, passion and commitment of educators who take on the most important and challenging work of educating our children.
Thank you to all teachers for the work you do, making a difference in the lives of New Mexico students!
Teachers know that our kids are more than a test score, and that effective teaching is about the whole student — helping all students become engaged, informed citizens who contribute to society, no matter what their socio-economic status, ethnicity, language or special needs.
Teachers make a difference for kids every day, with diversity in our classrooms increasing and student needs requiring more individualized instruction while class sizes are increasing.
Teachers, the majority of whom have seen their take-home pay decrease over the past four years, are still buying pencils and paper so their students can do their school work, copying materials at their own expense because the school has no money for copies, buying snacks for students who are hungry and clothes for students who are in need.
We continue to face many challenges in society and, thus, in our public schools. Teachers and other education employees are taking on these challenges with passion, dedication and caring.
Our society expects so much of teachers and seldom recognizes the great work they do every day. During this week set aside to appreciate teachers and the important work they do, take a few minutes to say thank you to your child’s teacher, or to a teacher who made a difference in your life.
It matters!

Sharon Morgan
President
NEA- New Mexico

U.S. health care system needs work
Editor:
The Gugginos stated it aptly in their letter about health care in our nation. The bills that were enacted that we know as “Obamacare” were only a step toward assisting real people with access to health care in this country.
I remember when there was no insurance for any health need, also when Medicare came on the scene. I was doing one of my clinical affiliations at what we called King County Unit 2, the old Children’s Orthopedic Hospital on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, Wash.
That’s where people who had no money went for care. Diabetics with wounds that would not heal, some with amputations that looked like what hangs in a meat locker, others who were in rocker beds from polio, and lots of paraplegics and quadriplegics, who spent their days in wooden wheelchairs that looked like they were from the “Gone With The Wind” era. Medicare greatly changed all that.
People talk about everyone needing to have insurance like we are violating everyone’s civil rights. The truth is that young, healthy men and women can take a relaxing motorcycle ride down here in New Mexico, and sometimes, through no fault of their own, end up as one of those paraplegics or quadriplegics in a moment. Especially without a helmet law.
Or a young person can develop a tumor, completely unexpectedly, and find him or herself with no resources for treatment. What generally happens is that Medicaid bails them out, costing all of us tremendous amounts of money.
Old and young should share in the risk pool to make medical care affordable. People who drive carelessly, either on cycles or in cars, often end up with head injuries which affect them for life — the cost is paid by us all.
The insurance industry is making a killing off the backs of all of us. The state of Washington is  balancing its state budget this year by pricing our medications — things like Cymbalta that you see advertised every day on TV — beyond our ability to pay for them. The copay went from $100 to 50 percent of the cost of the drug this year.
My pain specialist’s secretary called some pharmacies to find out the cost of a 90-day supply and found it was around $1,200. Now, I am very grateful for the insurance I have as a retired therapist and teacher, but I am very concerned about those without the means to pay the going rates on some of the treatments and drugs.
Now I hear that a young man died of a brain infection from an infected tooth that no one would treat under Medicaid. We are starting to look like a third-world nation here.
My sister lives in Canada; they sometimes have to wait to get seen for appointments that are not urgent, but they get good care. I saw my dad through part of his final illnesses, and his care was excellent.
If we had a Congress that wasn’t full of millionaires getting contributions from drug lobbyists, we could do a lot more for our people. We were the best country in the world medically, but no more.

Judy Bechtol
Los Lunas