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Letter: Electronic network could save lives

Doctors need immediate access to a patient's health history to provide the best care ["Readers' budget wishes," Letters, March 23]. Nowhere is this more evident than in life-threatening situations or when a patient is unconscious.

Today, emergency room doctors on Long Island can securely access patients' electronic health records through one of New York's 10 regional health information exchanges. The Healthix network gives the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System access to more than 7 million patient health records and connects 5,000 clinicians.

However, the state's 10 health information exchanges are not yet connected to each other. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's budget proposes spending $65 million for a statewide health information network and payer database.

These networks can give doctors immediate access to medical histories, medications, allergies and test results. They can help doctors coordinate care and prevent costly, duplicative testing or prescribing of conflicting medications.

Jeffrey Kraut, Great Neck

Editor's note: The writer is the senior vice president for strategy for the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

Spreading germs on trains and buses

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority should consider adding to its safety campaigns a brief reminder to passengers to cough and sneeze into a tissue, their upper sleeves or their elbows, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, especially during cold and flu season.

I have seen too many passengers cough or sneeze into their hands and then touch the seats, armrests, handrails, etc., spreading germs that may make others sick.

Emily Cianci, Merrick

U.S. ignoring Russian self-interest

The editorial "Putin must pay for aggression" [March 18] ignored certain essential facts and their consequences.

What right does the United States have to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin to cease taking control of Crimea under penalty of economic sanctions? We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan -- as well as Granada, Vietnam and Korea -- and have been accused of involvement in promoting the overthrow of the government of Ukraine. What moral authority do we have to insist that Putin back down?

In 1962, when John Kennedy was president, we had every right to demand the USSR back down when it provided nuclear missiles to Cuba, because Cuba is a next-door neighbor. The threat to our country had to be stopped. Crimea is next door to Russia; and Russia has the same self-protective rights we exercised in relationship to Cuba.

All reports indicate that there are significant military installations in Crimea. How can Russia be blamed for taking control of Crimea when the Ukrainian government itself proved to be unstable?

Putin will ignore empty threats, no matter how politically necessary President Barack Obama finds it to act tough. Putin will counter our financial sanctions with economic strategies of his own, such as cutting the price of Russian oil to European countries at a price well below those of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Robert Shorin, Syosset

Innovations like ACA met early bumps

One of your letter writers called out Long Island Democrats for supporting the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare [" 'Centrist' Dems and Obamacare," March 20].

In making his case, the writer accused these Democrats of using "liberal utopian talking points." Let's remember that facts can be very different from talking points.

So far, more than 5 million people have signed on to the ACA, and it looks as though the revised target of 6 million by March 31 will be met. This is fact, not a talking point.

The ACA has allowed American parents to keep their children on their policies until age 26. The ACA has enabled people to get medical insurance for the first time, without facing denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

The writer refers to Obamacare as the "presently unworkable health care law." Unworkable? The citizens of Massachusetts are very happy with their version of the ACA, begun by a Republican governor named Mitt Romney.

Obamacare can work, if given a chance. Every major undertaking in this country, from Social Security to Medicare, had problems at the start. Obamacare is no different. Let's see how it works, and if necessary, fixes can be made.

Simply criticizing without offering any alternative doesn't get the job done.

Peter Larkin, Bayside

Opposition to Caithness II

Special interest is outmaneuvering reason ["Bill would block LIPA plant deal," News, March 17].

The opposition to the Caithness II project is made up of a select few who have enjoyed tax subsidies generated by the Port Jefferson power plant. Their logic seems to be to spend as many dollars as it takes to make the 1948 power plant run as cleanly and efficiently as the Caithness plant in Yaphank.

You can roll this proposal in sugar all day long, and it will still taste foul to the Long Island ratepayer.

Martin O'Malley, Ridge