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Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | MARCH 9, 2009 7:27 AM

Let injured workers choose their own doctor

In 1913, the Legislature created the Iowa workers’ compensation system. As in all states, that system is based on a fundamental tradeoff. Injured workers gave up the right to sue in court for damages that are much greater than the relatively meager workers’ compensation benefits the workers can receive in their claim before a state agency. Employers gave up the right to not pay based on allegations of employee fault. The system’s fundamental success depends on the worker being provided prompt, definitive care. If not, the worker and her or his family quickly end up on public assistance.

Ninety-six years later, Iowa’s system still allows the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company to have complete control of what health care the injured worker receives. If the insurance company wants, then the injured worker has no power over what care the worker receives. The insurance company “medical care” routinely lead to very bad things, such as labeling work injuries as not caused by work, delayed diagnosis and care, and the insurance company (not the doctor) dictating medical-care decisions. It is not uncommon for company doctors to wait weeks or even months for the insurance company to decide if diagnostic tests or surgeries previously ordered by the doctor are allowed. In these circumstances, the worker is left without a means to get back to work and is often forced onto public aid.

Iowa’s insurance company choice procedure is rejected by the grand majority of states. We are one of only nine states in which the employer has complete control over doctor choice. Thirty-two states allow the worker to choose the doctor. Thus, almost all states believe that allowing the worker to choose is cheaper and gets the worker back to work more quickly.

The Iowa Legislature currently has before it a bill that allows the injured worker a limited right to choose. The Legislature should pass that bill.

Paul J. McAndrew, Jr.
Coralville

Preserve Roosevelt Elementary

Preserving Roosevelt School is a no-brainer. It would save $6 million, the parents and the neighborhoods (both Miller-Orchard and Melrose neighborhoods) want it, it would be a “greener” solution, it would retain some smaller classrooms, it would preserve a historic building, and it would not jeopardize the integrity of adjacent multi-generational neighborhoods.

I was shocked to see Superintendent Lane Plugge say on television that a reason to have a new building is because of the smaller classroom size of Roosevelt. Isn’t smaller classroom size better for education? In the March 1 Des Moines Register, teachers expressed concern about meeting the needs of all students. If they had smaller classes, wouldn’t that help? Don’t we all want quality education for all our children and not have some fall through the cracks because they can’t get the attention they need?

In the March 7 Press-Citizen, the School District laid out its first budget cuts. Wouldn’t $6 million save some of the cuts — or pay for more teachers? We are currently paying a 1- cent extra sales tax to help the schools. At the time, many people questioned the lack of specificity in the schools’ plans to spend that money. Spending $6 million on a plan that people don’t want and is not cost effective does not appear to be good stewardship of our money, especially in this economic downturn.
I’m also concerned by the School Board/District’s apparently cavalier attitude to tear down a historic building when it can be renovated for less than a new building.

The School District is part of Iowa City and is funded by us as taxpayers.

Therefore I think it appropriate that the City Council should be involved in such a decision, which affects the well-being of neighborhoods, the students, the environment, and our historic heritage.
There has been an outpouring of persuasive arguments to keep Roosevelt School, and it’s time for the School Board to listen and work to preserve it.

Jean Walker
Iowa City


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