KC readers discuss Bob Meneilly, vaccine hesitancy and US life expectancies

Gave many gifts

We have lost a giant. A quiet, faith-filled man who touched the hearts and souls of many. I have had the benefit of the gift of Dr. Bob Meneilly. (July 23, 1A, “Meneilly, Johnson County pastor who took on racism, extremism, dies”) From time to time, his guidance made a significant difference in my life.

Dr. Bob, with much gratitude, thank you.

– Jim Caccamo, Kansas City

The little things

The next time you use a drive-thru lane, take a moment to imagine how many other people worldwide wait in endless lines of vehicles to arrive at the product window.

Think of this as your contribution to climate change, that you chose to sit in your running, air-conditioned car instead of parking and walking inside.

– Armand Way, Topeka

It’s apolitical

I don’t know why there aren’t public service ads on TV and the internet, along with posters in federal and state offices, schools, VA hospitals and other federally supported clinics, along with billboards in every rural and metropolitan community, with portraits of people of high recognition from both the Republican and Democratic parties, with the simple slogan: “They got the shot.”

Former U.S. president: He got the shot.

Former first lady: She got the shot.

Same thing for the highly visible members of the U.S. Senate and House members: They got the shot.

These should be classified as public service ads. This isn’t political. It’s public health. It shouldn’t be partisan to want to save lives.

Save the economy. Save yourselves.

– Deb Kitchen, Kansas City

Make it personal

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and other Republicans have long maintained that wearing a mask and getting vaccinated are matters of personal responsibility and choice. So have Fox News, Newsmax and others who have unfortunately sold misinformation to their viewers (making a lot of money in the process).

As a result, Missouri’s first responders and health care workers are again overwhelmed by a surge of cases and hospitalizations caused by those who listened to others peddling false information. They made the personal choice to go unvaccinated.

In the spirit of Missouri’s GOP leadership, those who made the personal choice not to get vaccinated should be personally responsible for their own costs should they contract COVID-19. The cost to be vaccinated is free. The cost of hospitalization can run well over $25,000 per patient. The American taxpayer should not have to foot the bill because of their choices.

If Parson and his fellow party members truly believe in personal responsibility, they should introduce state and federal legislation to eliminate Medicaid and Medicare payments for any unvaccinated individual who contracts COVID-19.

Providing taxpayer money to those who don’t take personal responsibility for their actions is not the GOP way.

– Erik Giesa, Seattle, Washington

Get it done

A Wednesday letter writer (10A) suggested setting a deadline for Americans to get vaccinated for free, after which the vaccines should be sent to other countries in need. I agree with setting a deadline. That would be motivation for those sitting on the fence and would increase the lines for free COVID-19 vaccinations.

We should not have to bribe individuals to get vaccinations (they have the right to choose) when other countries would gladly take our leftovers.

We should be thankful that the previous administration helped develop the vaccines in “warp speed” time to help this country.

– Doug Combs, Olathe

Risk, responsibility

Insurance companies have the right, within reason and contract, to base coverage decisions on science and statistical evidence. It is now scientifically and statistically established that the COVID-19 vaccination is safe and prevents 95% of hospitalizations and deaths.

Health insurance providers should be able to exempt hospital admissions for people who choose not to be fully vaccinated. Alternatively, they should be able to charge unvaccinated policyholders a premium as they do smokers.

If adults want to assert their individual rights or cynicism over the needs of society, they should pay the freight for the consequences of their choices.

– Jerry Curry, Leawood

Jesus’ stance

It’s time to stop coddling the people who think public health measures, quarantines, lockdowns and vaccines tread on their rights. What these folks are really saying is, “I have the right to spread a dangerous, highly contagious disease, and you can’t stop me.” My response: Show me any document that says you can. Show me any court decision that says you can.

Anyone with any sense who professes to be concerned about personal freedoms should realize that no one has the right to make other people deathly ill. In fact, taking irresponsible actions that lead to the deaths of others is a crime. It’s called manslaughter.

As for the nitwit who told Gov. Mike Parson to “pick up a Bible” after he touted the vaccines (July 23, 8A, “Parson’s tardy vaccine talk irks those who’d rather die”): I don’t have to. I already know what Jesus would say and do.

– Jack Ellis, Tahoe City, California

What Cuba needs

Thanks for publishing “Help Cuba push for change, not bloody revolution,” Trudy Rubin’s sensible column. (July 22, 9A) Her recommendation for dropping sanctions reimposed on Cuba under Donald Trump makes more sense than Marc A. Thiessen’s recommendation for extending sanctions that appeared on the op-ed page the previous day. (11A, “Short take: Don’t end Cuban embargo, Joe Biden”)

The first sanctions on Cuba were imposed by the Eisenhower administration more than six decades ago. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to work eventually is one definition of insanity.

– Robert O’Rourke, Leavenworth

Why we’re behind

The July 22 front-page story “US life expectancy sees largest 1-year drop since WWII” was important regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But there is a more important story to be told about U.S. life expectancy and its dramatic four-decade lag behind the increases in other developed nations. As a physician, I think we should focus on this sorry performance.

There are three fundamental causes for this lag in life expectancy:

1) Most of our fellow Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations have achieved affordable health care coverage for everyone. The U.S. has not.

2) These OECD nations spend more than the U.S. on social support services (which are determinants of public health) rather than health care services. They spend $2 on social support services for every $1 spent on health care. We spend only 55 cents, according to some estimates.

3) These nations base their health care systems on primary care. The U.S. does not, despite abundant evidence that primary care is the only discipline of medicine where increasing the number of physicians lowers health care costs while improving individual and population health outcomes, health equity and life expectancy.

It is time for attention to these root causes of this sorry performance of our health care system.

– Douglas Henley, Village of Loch Lloyd