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Letters, Oct. 22

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Lottery player

I pulled into the gas station this morning on the way to work, and as I was pumping my gas, a van that had, to say the least, seen better days (two windows missing) pulled up at the adjacent pump. As the man pumped gas next to me, I noticed at least three children inside.

I entered the convenience store to pay for my gas and found myself in line behind the van's owner, who had also put what appeared to be a couple of honey buns, two chocolate milks, and a bag of pork rinds on the counter. He then produced a $20 bill to pay for that and his $4 in gasoline, but told the clerk that he was paying for the food separately, adding “I need 16 of those ($1 lottery tickets).”

The van owner then proceeded to purchase the additional $5.92 worth of nutritious food choices that probably constituted breakfast for the children in the van with a state of Arkansas food stamp card.

There's your lottery, Arkansans. And know this — whether you buy a ticket or not, and I didn't and won't, we all just paid for those 16 and a lot of others.

Mike Ferguson
Hot Springs

Public-private football

In your cover story, Oct. 15, Doug Smith made the barest, most passing reference — without noting that it is an Arkansas Activities Association rule — to the fact that the amount of financial aid provided to any student who plays sports at a private school is determined solely and exclusively by a third party designated by the AAA. The school has no involvement in or influence over determining the amount of financial aid that a student-athlete receives. This is what the public schools wanted and passed two years ago. Some recruiting tool, huh?

Charles L. Schlumberger
Little Rock

Double-dip watch

I have held a copy of your editorial on “One dip or two” for some time meaning to say thank you for bringing this to light. I believe Arkansas needs every dollar available to operate successfully. Why is it fair for some retirees to get two paychecks when others can receive only one? I am a government retiree from another state and my Social Security was reduced because I had the other pension and did not always pay into Social Security except for Medicare. I was appalled to read that the Arkansas legislature approved and made this double dipping possible.

Sharon Roberts
Little Rock

Health care story

Five years ago my wife Kelly suffered a horseback riding accident on a family camping vacation and was airlifted to the nearest hospital. Upon doing a CAT Scan and MRI, the neurosurgeon gave me two options. He could perform surgery on her brain in an attempt to save her life, or she would likely die within the hour.

I told him to go ahead with the surgery. Then I called United Health Insurance to report the accident.

My wife was in a coma for weeks. The doctors said she'd never walk again. Today, she's made close to a full recovery. It's nothing short of a miracle.

But her fight to survive was just the beginning. Just as she was waking up from her coma, I got the first bill from United Health Care. They were denying payment because, according to them, I hadn't reported the accident. Even after I sent them proof, they claimed that she was out of network and again refused payment.

Though they eventually covered some of the costs, we were forced into bankruptcy. It's been four years since the accident — we're still paying off bills and had to sell off most of our other assets just to keep our family home.

With all the fear mongering and misinformation being spread by insurance companies and their allies in Congress, it's the stories of families like mine that get drowned out. That's why Kelly and I went to Washington to make sure that Senator Lincoln heard the voices of ordinary Americans who, in the face of medical catastrophes, have fought with enormous courage, but been blocked at every turn.

We paid into the system our entire lives but, when disaster hit, the insurance companies abandoned us. No family facing a catastrophic illness or injury should have to battle their insurance company just to get the coverage they've paid for.

We put our elected officials in office because we trusted them to do what's right for their constituents. What's right is health care reform that lowers costs and keeps insurance companies honest.

David Arellanes
Bryant

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