The federal Medicare agency is planning new cuts to Medicare Advantage.

The advantage program suffered major cuts under the Affordable Healthcare Act and now it faces more. These cuts will have drastic effects on senior citizens like myself.

Many seniors rely on Medicare Advantage programs to provide quality, affordable health care with low premiums, capped out-of-pocket expenses, and extended benefits. We need our elected officials to act quickly on the 45-day notice and say “no” to additional cuts to Medicare Advantage.

My husband is insured by Providence Medicare Advantage and is very satisfied with his plan. Doctor visits, routine testing and prescription medications are all covered. His vision, dental, and hearing benefits are paid for as well.

He pays very little out of pocket.

I have had my struggles with getting the care I feel I need, but my Medicare Advantage plan has still been beneficial to me. If further cuts are made to the Medicare Advantage program, I fear that our premiums and co-pays will increase and our extended benefits may be eliminated altogether.

Financially, times are tough for us. Like most seniors, we simply cannot afford these cuts.

These quality plans provided through Medicare Advantage must be preserved. We have suffered enough with the existing cuts to our Medicare Advantage plan, and I don’t know that we can withstand more.

I call on our representative in Washington to tell the Medicare agency “no more cuts.”

Jerry Jeffs

Southwest Portland

State agency should block coal permits

After the Oregon Department of State Lands extended the deadline for granting or denying Morrow Pacific’s permit to export coal to China last week, the company’s spokeswoman was quoted as saying, “We’ve stressed time and again that every commodity should be treated the same.”

Powder River Basin coal is not a commodity like milk or wheat. It is flammable, explosive and extremely brittle once it is shoveled out of the ground and loaded into coal cars for its long dusty ride. Once coal dust is breathed into a child’s lung, it will stay there for the rest of that child’s life.

This commodity has the potential to contaminate our water, kill salmon, blight sustainable industries and blacken the quality of life Oregon is known for worldwide.

DSL was right to delay their permit. Hopefully, on Sept. 1, they will deny it.

Dennis Williams

Southeast Portland

Solar power could brighten Oregon

As a recent arrival from California, I always thought of Oregon as an environmental leader. And in so many ways it already is.

But when it comes to solar power, we’re far behind. In fact, right now we get less than 1 percent of our energy from the sun.

Luckily, this spring our state legislators have the opportunity to put us in front on this issue. By passing strong solar policies, leaders in Salem can re-power our state with pollution-free energy from the sun that never runs out and is only going to get cheaper.

I urge leaders in Salem to stand up for our health and environment, and make Oregon a leader on solar power.

Ibolya Mandoki

Southeast Portland

Pay attention to health plan changes

I am a licensed health broker and have been following closely the activities of Cover Oregon, which is the private company that will run the Oregon Exchange. I am shocked that more Oregonians are not paying attention to what is happening to individual health plans in Oregon.

The Oregon Insurance Division, under the directive of Cover Oregon, issued a bulletin on Feb. 22, 2013, (Bulletin 2013-1) saying that all individual plans in the state must be terminated no later than 3/31/13.

So much for “If you like your plan, you can keep it.”

Monica Cox

West Linn

Hey skateboarders: Put a reflector on it

I think it would be beneficial and possibly life-saving for skateboarders and bicycle riders to use reflectors or lights. At night, when coming up behind one of the forementioned, if they don’t have any reflectors or lights they are very hard to spot.

I would like to see some sort of safety feature added to them — before I either hit or run over someone — because doing it after an accident is much too late.

Ron Franklin

St. Helens

Guns can threaten others’ rights

In the debate today about gun violence with AR-15 type assault weapons and extended-clip handguns, no one is talking about everyone’s “unalienable rights (to) ... life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

When someone’s freedom to own and use a gun threatens others’ “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” why is that not illegal? John Stuart Mill, in his book, “On Liberty,” stated that the actions of individuals should be limited to prevent harm to other individuals, which he called the “harm principle.”

When the Newtown, Conn., children died, the students in Blacksburg, Va., were shot, the moviegoers in Aurora, Colo., killed and the shoppers at Clackamas Town Center perished all at the hands of AR-15 assault rifles and extended-clip handguns, were not their rights harmed?Why is this so hard to understand and prevent?

Ted Ricks

Lake Oswego

Use settlement for healthy kids

After decades of deceiving the public about the dangers of tobacco use, the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was signed in 1998.

This landmark legislation required tobacco companies to pay states millions of dollars to compensate for tobacco-related health care costs and to advance the public health; Oregon alone received $120 million.

However, these funds have never been used for public health purposes, but instead have been directed to fill budget gaps year after year. This year we have a tremendous opportunity to redirect a portion of the TMSA funds ($120 million for the 2013-15 biennium) to their original purpose.

The American Heart Association and other health care advocacy organizations have proposed allocating these funds to community care organizations at the heart of Oregon’s health care transformation: children’s health and wellness programs and Oregon’s Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, which helps smokers quit and keeps youths from starting.

As an Oregonian and a granddaughter who lost her grandmother to a smoking-related death, as a friend who recently lost a dear friend to lung cancer, and a woman who tried smoking and fortunately stopped, I know that with tobacco prevention programs, we can save lives. I feel that we must capitalize on this opportunity to direct the funds to their original purpose. We must help all Oregonians live a healthy life, especially our kids.

Christine Wooley

Volunteer, American Heart Association

Northwest Portland

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