Northern Virginia Daily


The usual Washington partisan posturing goes on around the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Once confirmed, her record suggests, Judge Sotomayor will shock both the left and the right by being a competent centrist.

However, controversy surrounds her suggestion that her experience as a Latina gives her advantages in some situations. Her opponents call this a doctrine of racial superiority, like the Jim Crow claptrap that did such harm to the South.

Like millions of Puerto Ricans (and Virginians), Judge Sotomayor is probably of mixed European, African and American Indian descent. Her claim that a “wise Latina” may have special insights is based on life experience, not some imagined genetic or racial supremacy.

Candidates for nomination or election often tout their status as business people (“I have met a payroll”) or veterans (“I will serve my constituents as I served my country”) or even parents or churchgoers. They are justifiably proud of valuable life experiences. They aren’t claiming they belong to some inherently superior group.

When we see a businessman who has successfully met a payroll and provided a service for decades, we know that person has faced and learned from certain challenges. When we see people of color, like Colin Powell or Sonia Sotomayor, rise from poverty to a high-status position, we know they have also faced great challenges.

Undoubtedly, Judge Sotomayor has learned much from this experience. We should be grateful, not fearful, that this gift is included in her ongoing service to our nation.

Larry Yates
79 Indian Camp Trail
July 14, 2009

Northern Virginia Daily


As part of health-care reform, the need for many additional primary-care physicians is apparent, rather than increasing the number of specialists in the various “referral” specialties, such as surgery or radiology. Family practitioners are in short supply.

Encouragement to enter — and stay — in family-care practices would be a proper goal for medicine as a whole and for the general public.

The cost of medical education is very expensive and increasing. By creating government-funded new medical teaching institutions geared to the creation of new generations of direct, hands-on physicians — such as family practitioners — complementing existing private and public medical schools, rather than competing with them, would offer an increasing opportunity for aspirants to enter medicine in a needed area suffering from lack of entrants, primarily due to the lesser financial rewards of family practice as compared to specialty practices.

Moreover, by offering more “payback” options on student loans, including forgiveness for medical practitioners in under-served communities — both rural and urban — would be beneficial both to the recipient of medical services and the health-care provider. Such programs exist now to a limited extent (military service, etc.). Full and partial scholarship programs could be instituted.

By increasing focus on front-line physicians, combined with increased attention on preventive medicine and physical fitness, overloaded emergency rooms could return to their original purpose of providing emergency care, rather than family care for chronic problems and other nonmedical emergencies.

An expected result of such a program would be (eventually) less cost for other government-sponsored health plans, such as Medicaid and Medicare.

Such a program should play a part in any reform effort, rather than depending on a yearly influx of foreign-born and -trained physicians to play a dominant role in the ever expanding need for medical services in the United States, thereby depriving the medical donor countries of needed physicians in their countries and depriving qualified students in the United States of the opportunity to attend medical school because of the shortage of training facilities.

Now is the time to implement this program.

P.O. Box 418
July 15, 2009

Northern Virginia Daily


The current debate over health care is an outrage. Why should our health-care system be any different than our education system? Both services should be a right as a citizen of the USA, and the profit motive should be removed from the provision of basic health care. There could still be specialized/advanced care services available to those who want to pay for them — just as there are expensive colleges beyond high school.

The for-profit health insurance companies are exactly that. They are in the health insurance business to make money for their stockholders and for their executives to make high salaries. They pay their lobby organizations and they give large donations to politicians to keep the current system from changing. They are not very different from the financial companies whose wealthy executives got us in the current economic crisis.
Health insurance companies or their stockholders fund TV ads and other media that criticize the idea of government-run health care. They say it would make it too complicated, we wouldn’t be able to choose our own doctors and it would be too expensive.

This is the very situation they have created. The paperwork involved with our current system is ridiculous for both health-care providers and for patients. Reading the descriptions of what health insurance plans cover and what is excluded is even more confusing than reading the IRS code. Quite an achievement!

According to Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of health and human services, “14 percent of people in Virginia are uninsured” and the situation is getting worse. Please support President Obama’s basic principles for reforming health care. The reforms must reduce costs, guarantee a choice of plans and doctors (including a public option) and ensure quality, affordable care for every American.

In my opinion these are minimum requirements. We would be even better off without the profit-making health insurance companies being involved in basic health care.

Sandra Z. Wilson
297 Hickerson Hollow Road
Front Royal
July 16, 2009

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