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On health insurers rationing care; mistrial in a gay teen's killing; and Sarah Palin's presidential aspirations

September 03, 2011
  • Karen Iritano gives her husband, Bob, a kiss on his 50th birthday last year while cooking dinner. Facing terminal cancer, his life was extended by a year and a half after his health insurer, Health Net, reversed an earlier decision not to cover what it deemed an experimental procedure. Bob Iritano died Thursday morning at age 51.
Karen Iritano gives her husband, Bob, a kiss on his 50th birthday last year… (Anne Cusack, Los Angeles…)

Life and death

Re "Putting a price on added life," Column, Sept. 2

As I expected, your article — that a health insurer refused to pay for a life-extending treatment that it had previously paid for, and that had worked, for the same person — both saddened and angered me.

I can't get my head around the insurance companies and our healthcare situation.

But the irony was another article in the Business section titled "Health Insurers ordered to publicly justify rate hikes."

I think health insurers should also be ordered to publicly justify why they let a man die.

Amy Wallen

San Diego

Thank you for publishing the poignant column by David Lazarus. His writing sets a high standard of excellence in journalistic work.

The value placed on one life, so well expressed in this piece, pushes back against the myriad dark voices dedicated only to profit at the expense of individual lives.

Sam Naifeh

San Mateo, Calif.

I fully concur with your columnist's statement that doctors and not insurance companies are in the best position to determine what's best for the patient.

However, I'd add that it's high time that doctors, hospitals and others in the profession step up to the plate and do it.

My recent experiences in guiding my late sister's treatment for metastatic rectal cancer have caused me to question just how much doctors weigh the best interests of the patient versus their own financial best interests.

Our healthcare system is broken. I don't think it's reasonable to believe that the medical profession will routinely counsel patients and families that the time has come to halt cure-oriented treatment and begin palliative care as long as we're on a pay-for-treatment system.

Burt Hermey

Costa Mesa

My heart goes out to the Iritano family for their loss. Yet, I'd also like to point out the flip side to the argument that decisions should not be left to the bean counters.

I completely understand that insurance companies are in it for profit and not necessarily for the benefit of the patient, but let's not forget that some doctors are as well.

Not all physicians are looking out only for patients; they see dollar signs and have bean counters as well.

Cory Payton

Porterville, Calif.

Please. Everyone who hasn't lived under a rock all their lives knows the bad stories about national health coverage.

We have a friend who lived in Britain for many years. It took her two years to get a hysterectomy that would have taken her two weeks at an HMO here — two days if her condition were life-threatening. The numbers don't coincide with your version of reality.

This death is a sad thing. But his extra year and a half of life was won by a successful struggle that he and his family could not have waged against the bureaucracy of, say, Britain's healthcare system.

Your argument is driven by political hope, not reality.

Joan Moon

Burbank

No defense for teen's killing

Re "Mistrial in killing of gay student," Sept. 2

The judge in the Brandon McInerney trial made a serious error in giving the jury the option to consider voluntary manslaughter as a verdict. In giving that option to jurors, I believe the judge was in effect saying that society recognizes that being solicited by a gay person is an incomplete defense — but a defense nonetheless — to killing the gay person.

Stated differently, the ruling indicates McInerney's anger and action were at least partly justified.

As a straight male, I'm horrified by that ruling. Being offended because you've been "hit on" or even ridiculed by a gay man should provide no more justification for killing than being solicited or ridiculed by a woman. In other words, it's no justification at all.

Ray McKown

Los Angeles

What a "gay panic" and "Twinkie" defense have in common: diminished capacity.

I thought the 1979 trial in which Dan White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder had put an end to this kind of "heat of the moment" killing.

We are back to square one.

Scott Matz

Los Angeles

Parsing Palin's presidential plan

Re "The procrastinator," Opinion, Sept. 1

It's ironic that Doyle McManus calls for Sarah Palin to "end the fan dance, let her forlorn suitors know whether she's ready to make a commitment and — if not — let the rest of the field get on with the race."

I've never heard of a performer voluntarily giving up the spotlight when she has as avid an audience as McManus and the rest of the media.

David Kidd

Glendale

Palin's plans and strategy are transparent and easy to understand.

She doesn't want to be president; she wants to be a star!

When a GOP candidate is selected, she will say she supported him/her all along. Because she's an attention-getter, the candidate will be happy to have her support. If the GOP wins, she'll be in a perfect spot for an appointment to a well-paying government job that doesn't require mastering tough subjects. She'll be sure she gets a position that keeps her in the public eye, where she can be continually worshiped and adored.

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