Letters to the Editor

This is Viewpoints for Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The ‘we’ get the shaft

The rich get richer, the middle class gets poorer and the poor get the shaft. We are being told that because of the Affordable Care Act and insurance companies are going bankrupt (Rep. Rand Paul in January 2017). Consider this: UnitedHealth announced record-breaking profits in 2015, followed by an even better year in 2016. In July 2016, UnitedHealth celebrated revenues that quarter totaling $46.5 billion, an increase of $10 billion since the same time during the previous year. And company filings show that UnitedHealth’s CEO Stephen J. Hemsley made over $20 million in 2015. To be fair, that is a pay cut. The previous year, Hemsley took home $66 million in compensation. Hemsley is far from being the only health insurance CEO making millions of dollars every year.

Aetna, whose CEO Mark Bertolini reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission a $27.9 million compensation in 2015, has similarly celebrated sky-high profits. In 2015, Aetna reported annual operating revenue of over $60.3 billion, a record for the company.

With $1.5 million in salary and more than $15 million in bonuses and other compensation from the multi-state not-for-profit insurance company, former Health Care Service Corp. CEO Patricia Hemingway Hall retired at the end of 2015 as the nation’s highest-compensated plan CEO, according to data provided to The AIS Report by the Illinois Department of Insurance. In 2014, her compensation package was worth $11.7 million. HCSC operates plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Paula Steiner, previously HCSC’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer, took over as president and CEO on Jan. 1, 2016. In 2015, she earned $849,000 in salary and $4.8 million in bonuses and other compensation. Nine other members of HCSC’s executive team also had substantially larger compensation packages in 2015 compared to prior years. Their combined packages were worth $56.7 million — up $20 million.

CEOs representing 28 plans collected $110.1 million in total compensation last year, which consisted of about $24 million in salary, $54 million in bonuses and $32 million in other compensation, according to data supplied by state regulators in response to The AIS Report’s Freedom of Information Act requests and other inquiries. While CEOs from a few plans saw their overall compensation dip in 2015, many had significantly higher bonuses and other financial incentives.

Compensation packages grew more in 2016, according to Willis Towers Watson’s annual survey of health plans. While the median salary for health plan CEOs increased modestly between 2015 and 2016, long-term incentives jumped by 24 percent, driving total direct compensation (salary and incentives) up 13 percent overall.

Think about it folks. If the Senate passes its version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, these millionaires and billionaires will get a huge tax break and the rest of us get the shaft. They’ve reconciled health care for their betterment, not ours. And so it goes.

Katherine Appert,

Macon

What does the slogan mean?

In the 2016 presidential Republican primaries and in the General Election, candidate Donald Trump rode his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan to victory. His supporters wore baseball-type caps and T-shirts with “Make America Great Again” emblazoned on the caps and shirts. Those four words suggested that at one time, or some time, America was a great nation, but was/is no longer.

During the 2016 political campaigns, I don’t recall there was much, if any, discussion of when and why our country was especially great at a particular time in American history. In specifics, what lost American greatness? What did Trump, his voters and the Republican Party think needed to be recaptured? What makes a nation great?

Catchy campaign slogans will not a great nation make. President Trump, at best, is off to a rocky, wobbly start. It is not too late for him to clearly, comprehensively articulate what “Make America Great Again” means. If the president cannot do it or won’t do it, it is evident voters who voted for him were fooled, or conned.

Paul L. Whiteley Sr.,

Louisville, Kentucky

Protesting tweets

Those on the left protesting Trump`s Tweets, are analogous to those on college campuses, protesting conservative speakers. They are not protesting what he is saying but his right to say them.

Darlis Whitworth,

Gray

Nothing positive

Wow, y’all outdid yourselves in the July 10 paper. A total of four negative articles about our president and vice president, two from The New York Times and two from the Washington Post. This is getting ridiculous . And y’all just keep on flaunting your bias and negativity towards President Trump. How about some articles from a conservative news outlet, one that actually reports the news and lets the reader/viewer draw his/her own conclusions about that the story means? We are talking about something once known as journalism, where reporters reported what happened and editors opined about what the news meant, or could mean.

President Trump made some great speeches in Europe last week, I don’t remember one positive story in The Telegraph that painted any aspect of his trip in a positive light.

Jerry Norris,

Warner Robins

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