When I was a child in the 1950s, none of our families had dental insurance, but our parents made sure we had our teeth examined and treated because public schools in Brooklyn would not promote students unless they presented a completion note from a dentist — and education was very important to our parents [“Efforts to overcome the obstacles to early dental care,” News, Feb. 2]. In addition, parents could not afford high dental bills, so there was no soda or sugary food at home. Fruits were natural substitutes.
As a dental hygienist (now retired), I would speak at schools about oral hygiene. Even 5-year-olds were receptive. If nutrition were taught in the later grades, perhaps our children would have healthier teeth and bodies.
Pat King, Merrick
Mental illness is a factor in drug abuse
In the Feb. 3 news story “Fatal opioid overdoses fall on LI,” a mother who lost her son to an overdose said that suicide is another factor not always looked at when counting deaths related to substance use.
When a known substance user suddenly dies, many people are quick to assume that an overdose was the cause. However, it is important to remember that many substance users struggle with untreated or undiagnosed mental health issues, and the battles they face with their thoughts and emotions can lead to suicide, which might be further influenced by substance use.
I lost someone to suicide, and this person did not have any drugs in his system at the time of death, ruling out an overdose. We must acknowledge the point that this mother made, and consider suicides to be another tragic consequence of the drug epidemic.
Brandy Amodio, Patchogue
Editor’s note: The writer is a social worker.
Don’t confuse views on abortion, racism
Columnist Cathy Young writes that, “For conservatives with strong pro-life convictions, abortion is what racism is to progressives: an absolute evil that allows for no nuance” [“A new round in the abortion wars,” Opinion, Feb. 7].
To equate abortion as evil to conservatives and racism evil to progressives is divisive and evil. It suggests that those of us who believe the killing of the unborn is morally wrong are racist. How can she profess to know how pro-life people feel about racism?
I am pro-life and also against any type of racism and discrimination. Some in the media, Hollywood and the left continue to divide this nation by blaming and calling the right, racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant and more. If you want to have an honest and open discussion on late-term abortion, then confine it to that topic. If you want to discuss racism, then we should discuss the evils of racism. Can’t we have a discussion without the labels?
Patrick Nicolosi, Elmont
Brokaw had a point about learning English
Tom Brokaw of NBC was not wrong in saying Hispanic immigrants should learn English [“Apology after comments on Hispanics,” Flash!, Jan. 29]. Any U.S. immigrant should learn English. We have accommodated everyone. At the bank or hospital, you see signs in Spanish, Chinese, Korean and other languages. Call a business and you hear, “Press 2 for Spanish.”
I have worked as a nursing assistant, emergency medical technician, medical records technician and medical coder, and am certified as a domestic violence counselor. Yet, I cannot get a job because I cannot speak two or more languages. It’s wrong!
People who want to be Americans and benefit from our system should learn English. Americans should not pay the price for not speaking a foreign language.
Regla Gibson, St. Albans
Patients should seek counseling on prices
The Jan. 27 news story “Decoding your hospital bill” provided context for the list of standard charges the federal government recently required hospitals to make public. Each hospital is unique in how it lists procedures, services or supplies. Apples-to-apples comparisons are very difficult. This list won’t include the charges of physicians who are not employed by the hospital. It might not be possible to discern in advance the severity of a patient’s condition or complications that will affect charges. For these reasons, the hospitals argued forcefully that this publication would not help consumers.
These lists are intended to provide a baseline for negotiations with insurers. Higher-volume purchasers typically negotiate lower prices. (Medicare and Medicaid set their own prices regardless of what hospitals charge.) Consumers are encouraged to contact their health plans for estimates specific to their conditions and coverage.
If you don’t have insurance, the standard-charge list is not relevant. Federal law requires hospitals to charge uninsured individuals no more than the amounts paid by their typical patients with insurance. Both federal and state law require that financial help be provided to individuals who need it. Every hospital has patient counselors to help consumers apply for financial assistance. Counselors also can provide good faith estimates of typical expenses for a patient’s care.
Kevin Dahill, Hauppauge
Editor’s note: The writer is president and chief executive of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, a trade organization.