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Rising health premiums demand full disclosure

A recent News article reported New York's attempts to get health insurers to release information behind their price increases. State regulators want health insurers to release all documents justifying health insurance premium hikes so consumers can see the reasoning for the price increases. Insurers are objecting, saying the documents should remain confidential because the release of the information behind the cost increases would put them at a competitive disadvantage.

The whole point of implementing the bill passed by Congress and signed by the president was so that health insurance companies would compete against each other for lower prices. Why, then, would they need confidential documents justifying premium hikes?

First, the fact that insurance companies are raising premiums flies in the face of the health care law. Companies are supposed to compete against each other to lower, not raise, prices. Second, it was argued that such costs could be regulated by the private market because companies naturally would be competing against each other to keep premiums low.

Furthermore, because of private market competitiveness, universal health care could be implemented. The president and Congress chose this method over a public option or a single-payer system.

Health insurance companies are proving that private-sector competition does not lower prices. Not only are these companies raising prices, they are keeping the reason they are doing so a secret. These actions prove why we need a single-payer system or, at least, a public option. My liberal roots are rotting.

Helaine Elise Sanders

East Amherst

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All who make the team should be able to play

I read the Oct. 13 article in NeXt in regard to benchwarmers. The writer does not take into account parents and grandparents who come to the games to see their child or grandchild play. It is very frustrating to show up all the time and not see them play week after week. If they were good enough to make the team, then they should be good enough to play.

We all know not every child has the same abilities. But who wants to sit on the bench all the time? How are they going to learn and get better? Coaches are the big problem; most are on an ego trip to win, win, win. They have no feelings for the benchwarmers. If you make the team, you should play. Win, lose or draw.

Ronald C. Mazur

Cheektowaga

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Non-violent incidents don't merit suspension

The Buffalo Public School District can take a page from the criminal justice system's new pilot program aimed at rehabilitation rather than punishment. A recent News article showed that there were more than 600 suspensions in September. Punishment seems to be thriving in our schools.

Just as the criminal justice system realizes that providing a support system based on treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment is more effective, Buffalo schools should also change their approach. Last year, there were 17,000 suspensions. One in five students in Buffalo is suspended, versus the state average of one out of 20.

The adolescent brain is different from an adult brain, and kids don't weigh risks and consequences the way adults do. If the criminal justice system can differentiate this, then why can't our school system? Our children are being suspended for frivolous actions, such as class clowning or wearing a hoodie to school.

One preventative measure we can take now to curb the rise of youth in our criminal justice system is to ensure that our children are well-educated. We can't educate them when we keep putting them out of school and onto the streets.

The district needs to understand that non-violent incidents need to be dealt with differently than violent incidents. It should implement a policy that ends all out-of-school suspensions for non-violent incidents.

Danielle N. Judge-Johnson

Lead Organizer, Citizen

Action of New York, Buffalo

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Additional trade pacts only hurt Americans

The bipartisan free trade agreement with South Korea, Panama and Colombia represents a victory for multinational and foreign interests over those of the American people and a continuation of 30 years of decline and failure from this supply-side trade and economic policy. It appears the only thing the two major parties can agree on is self-aggrandizement by favoring the wealthy few over the rest of the country. This bipartisan betrayal in the face of numerous demonstrations regarding severe unemployment presents a historical dilemma. Voters no longer have the option of deciding this issue by supporting either major political party.

Contrary to the Reaganesque promise of increased good-paying "made in America" jobs, with Congress' incorporation of trade readjustment assistance, even it is forecasting more job loss. Continued failure to remedy this travesty can only result in more decline and poverty, leading to riots and insurgency. Our government is forgetting this country was born in revolution, and there can be a similar reaffirmation resulting from its continued representation favoring illegal and unfair foreign interests over those of the American people. We are not the United States of global.

Louis L. Boehm

Orchard Park

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U.S. killing of terrorist was justice, not murder

I am appalled at the remarks made by some citizens regarding the death of Anwar al-Awlaki. Does a U.S. citizen motivate and plan attacks on our country? He trained and recruited many members of al-Qaida. He was linked to three of the 9/1 1 hijackers, the "underwear bomber," the Fort Hood shooter and many more terrorist acts. In 2009, al-Awlaki was promoted to the rank of "regional commander" in al-Qaida. He used the Internet to influence radical Islamists in English-speaking countries, and he promoted jihad against the United States.

Born in New Mexico in 1971, his family moved back to Yemen in 1978. He returned to the United States in 1991 and attended our colleges. He came here on a foreign student visa and a government scholarship from Yemen, and claimed to be born in Yemen. In 2002, he left the United States, preaching hate of non-Muslims to young Muslims. From 2004 to 2011, he resided in Yemen and carried out his anti-U.S. activities.

He may have been born in the United States, but he spent much of his life in Yemen and Afghanistan (training to fight and kill Americans). He was a terrorist and a traitor, and even the Yemeni government wanted him captured "dead or alive." His death was justice, not murder. Our leaders have sworn to protect us from terrorists.

How would anyone with a speck of common sense consider him a citizen of the United States of America?

Colleen D'Ingillo

Grand Island