In your July 20 issue, John Brummett wrote a commentary on the personal nature of the Washington discussions about the nation's debt ceiling. In that column he made a statement regarding Arkansas Medicaid that is so factually inaccurate that it begs a correction. The debate about the governor's proposal to change Arkansas's Medicaid program is difficult enough without a respected columnist providing readers with information that is simply wrong. Good decisions are based on good information and the outcome of this debate will impact over 750,000 Arkansans who depend on Medicaid.
Mr. Brummett's statement was that reimbursement rates to doctors compose the primary drain on Medicaid. The truth is that physician reimbursement accounts for less than 8 percent of Medicaid spending and that percentage has been declining for the last four years. That's not an opinion; it's straight from Medicaid's published data. Growth in Medicaid spending for physician services has averaged less than 5 percent over the past five years. To put that in perspective, a primary goal of the governor's Medicaid proposal is to reduce Medicaid's total spending growth from an annual rate of 7 to 8 percent down to a manageable rate of around 5 percent.
It would be a service to your readers to assign a reporter to look at the Medicaid data and write a factual article on Medicaid spending, the various spending categories and their growth rates. Then your readers can judge for themselves where the "drain" on Medicaid lies. An overview of Arkansas Medicaid for 2010 can be found at www.medicaid.state.ar.us. Under the heading "Transforming Arkansas Medicaid," one can find detailed information that breaks down Medicaid spending into the various categories including how much is paid to each type of provider and how those categories have grown over the past five years.
Mr. Brummett also took a gratuitous shot at State Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View. As an elected official, that comes with the territory. She's more than capable of defending herself. But for the record, she has never advocated reducing medical services to the needy. Her husband is a family doctor who made a decision to make a life for himself and his family serving patients in rural Arkansas, including those on Medicaid. Those same folks elected her to be their state senator.
Executive vice president of the Arkansas Medical Society
PETA isn't telling the truth
As president of the Docent Council at the Little Rock Zoo, I am beyond appalled that a PETA "Staff Writer" from a state many miles away has the gall to pass judgment on the actions of the zoo regarding the death of Ellen. How dare she, Jennifer O'Connor, make statements that are not only unfounded, but ridiculously untrue?
When Ellen died that Tuesday morning, the staff of the zoo made a conscious decision to close the grounds until the proper steps could be taken to give her the respect she deserved after her final moments. Some staff spent decades caring for Ellen and were devastated by her death. Yes, the public deserves to know what happened and the public knows. Ellen lived a very happy 60 years, far beyond the normal life span of an animal her size. Ellen passed in the morning hours, not at a time when it was convenient for PETA.
Did she, Jennifer O'Conner, expect the zoo to have people just walk by while staff loaded Ellen's body onto a truck for transport to her final resting place? How does it honor Ellen to have random pictures of her dead body floating around the Internet? Since she, Jennifer O'Conner, hasn't been to the zoo, allow me to point out that the elephant exhibit is in the middle of the zoo. One must pass by the exhibit to go to either side of the Zoo.
I have spent more than 10 years giving of my time, money and energy to the Little Rock Zoo. I have seen wonderful joyous moments and have sadly experienced moments such as the passing of Mary and Ellen. When one reads about the antics of PETA, I hope it comes to mind that PETA only reports on the negative and attempts to twist facts to promote its own political agenda. The only ones here not telling the truth are PETA. They aren't sharing the wonderful moments that make us, the docents, want to give everything we can back to the zoo, its staff and every animal on the grounds both past and present.
So, Jennifer O'Connor, if you would like to see our wonderful zoo, I would love to give you a tour. And by the way, Ellen had tusks!
Little Rock Zoo Docent Counsel
Ronald Reagan made Rupert Murdoch by dismantling the laws that regulated the American news industry. The laws were written after World War II when Congress and the world were horrified by the power the Nazis wielded through corrupt media. Hitler's propaganda strategy was to tell the "BIG LIE" over and over again until the people accepted it as the truth. That is the best description of the Murdoch Empire strategy I have heard.
The so-called Fox News Network is a prime example. "Fair and Balanced," "Looking out for you." What a crock. Yet, there are those among us who believe everything they hear O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck and the other lunatics on Fox say.
If, as a thinking person, you marvel at how these people can get Americans to constantly vote against their interest, just look at what the Nazis did in Europe, and turn on Fox News for 10 minutes.
Think about Bill O'Reilly's opening statement: "Caution, you are now entering the no spin zone."
First he warns you, then he lies to you.
Murdoch's Empire has been exposed for what it is; now it must be dismantled.
The rich and public schools
Susan B. Anthony said, "If all the rich and all of the church people should send their children to the public schools they would feel bound to concentrate their money on improving these schools until they met the highest ideals."
In a true democracy perhaps?