Letters to the Editor

Lack of drug price transparency harms consumers

An anti-fascist demonstrator jumps over a barricade during a free speech rally Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif.
An anti-fascist demonstrator jumps over a barricade during a free speech rally Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. AP

Drug prices

Re “If California doesn’t stand up to drug companies, who will?” (Editorials, Sept. 7) The public anger over skyrocketing drug prices is rightfully growing. Drug companies can increase prices whenever they feel like it. Remember the EpiPen injector needed to save lives of people with allergic reactions? In the 10 years since Mylan bought the rights to EpiPen, the list price has increased from $90 to $608. It still costs $1 to produce. Drugs that treat multiple sclerosis now average $85,000 per year, many times what it cost a few years ago. One drug increased from $8,292 per year in 1996, to $91,400 per year now. The coalition in support of SB 17 is not just patients and doctors, but consumers and insurance companies, along with labor and business and many others concerned with the rising costs of health care. SB 17 simply requires that drug companies provide advance notice and disclosure of increases in costs, which is routine for all other aspects of health care. Lack of transparency is costing us all.

Heather Fargo, Sacramento

Teens’ sleep

Re “Heavy lobbying aside, here are bills that might actually help kids and families” (Editorials, Sept. 7) The UC Davis Sleep Lab has been studying adolescent changes in sleep for 15 years. Our research experience and knowledge indicates that the biological evidence for later school times is insufficient to support a statewide mandate on this issue. We agree that this issue is important, but the understanding of adolescent sleep neurobiology is incomplete in important respects. It is not yet known whether a circadian delay in sleep onset reflects brain maturation or environmental entrainment. It is not clear that the shift in start times will produce the desired effects on sleep duration and academic performance. Given these uncertainties, the most prudent course would be to leave the question to local school districts. Those that choose to delay start times should do so in the context of carefully planned and statistically appropriate methods of evaluation, determined in advance.

Ian G. Campbell, UC Davis, Dixon

Safer dialysis

Re “In Legislature’s final days, here are some special interest bills that ought to die” (Editorials, Sept. 5): As a dialysis patient, it made me sick to see The Sacramento Bee’s ill-informed editorial about safety standards for clinics. Conditions at the DaVita clinic in North Highlands have deteriorated so much that I have to swat flies and smell backed-up plumbing for the four hours my treatment takes. Sometimes, there is just one nurse and two technicians for a floor of patients. At 63-years-old, my life depends on this treatment. I deserve to feel safe. That’s why I’m supporting Senate Bill 349, which requires safer staffing levels and annual inspections. I’m glad clinic workers are standing with patients to fight for safer care. We certainly can’t count on the greedy dialysis industry to do what’s right.

Richard Elliott, Sacramento

Electricity

Re “Power board is being ruined in the dark” (Viewpoints, Sept. 6): The California Municipal Utilities Association is wrong that a proposal to integrate California’s electricity grid throughout the Western region has only been discussed in private. Electricity grid governance and operations issues have been scrutinized since 2015, with dozens of public workshops, public meetings of the California Energy Commission and California Public Utilities Commission, and an Assembly Committee hearing. Stakeholders, including publicly owned utilities, have had ample opportunity to discuss proposed changes to the California Independent System Operator governing board that would lower electricity costs and make our energy system more reliable. Fully independent governing boards are the norm for other U.S. grids. Supporters of the Secure California’s Energy Future campaign, including myself, have voiced support for Independent System Operator governance reform since March. Californians shouldn’t wait for more affordable and reliable clean energy.

Daniel M. Kammen, UC Berkeley, Oakland

Prevailing wage

Re “Prevailing wage laws didn’t cause housing crisis. Attacks on them are about greed.” (California Forum, Sept. 3) I agree with State Building and Construction Trades Council President Robbie Hunter’s assessment of union labor skills. I disagree when he states that the prevailing wage is “the common hourly rate that prevails in any local area.” This implies that it is the average wage in any area. It is not. During Gov. Jerry Brown’s first term, the method of determining the prevailing rate was changed from the average wage to the mode. As an elementary school student will tell you, the mode is the most frequently occurring wage and not the average wage. Since unions fix a common wage, the prevailing wage is actually the union wage. This has a significant effect upon costs.

Paul Cunha, Granite Bay

Trump on DACA

Re “Trump didn’t show ‘compassion’ by ending DACA. He was a coward” (Editorials, Sept. 6): What Trump showed is that he follows the Constitution, ending Obama’s unconstitutional creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a usurping of Congress’ authority. Further, Trump has provided a grace period for Congress to act. How is this cowardly or heartless? The editors would disregard our Constitution, for an imperial presidency ruled by heart, not law.

Bill Jurkovich, Citrus Heights

The solution

There is a solution available to President Trump. He could call upon Congress to send him the Dream Act for his signature, pure and simple. Instead, he cynically chose to turn the young Dreamers into 800,000 bargaining chips in a divisive attempt to fund his wall and radically change our nation’s immigration laws to fit a white nationalist agenda.

Robert Turnage, West Sacramento

Better angels

As a good Christian, I believe the sins of the father shouldn’t be passed on to the son. It is cruel to expel someone brought to this country though no fault of their own to somewhere they don’t know. President Donald Trump wants to throw them out through some irrational fear of foreigners. As a taxpayer, I have spent a great sum to educate Dreamers in our public schools and universities. I don’t see any reason to throw them out of our country. Let’s allow them to stay and use them as part of the engine of innovation that has truly made this country the beacon to the rest of the world. We have overcome the racist and hateful reactions. We should, as President Lincoln counseled, listen to our better angels.

Leonard Cooper, Auburn

Smith on antifa

Re “California doesn’t need antifa, but the rest of the country sure does” (Erika D. Smith, Sept. 2): Erika D. Smith’s column was one of the dumbest I’ve read in a long time. Antifa’s violent antics are counterproductive and play into the hands of Donald Trump and other white supremacists. Smith and antifa should learn a lesson from history: The civil rights movement was successful because its supporters used nonviolent tactics, and the segregationists didn’t. Most Americans were horrified by the violence they saw on television in Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma. The result was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Nonviolent protests will defeat the racists this time too.

Steve Lawrence, Sacramento

Evil

Antifa is evil. Masked thugs roam in packs, gleefully attacking anyone suspected of being conservative and burning or breaking property. This is the definition of terrorism, yet Erika D. Smith says we need it. Worse, she says they should go and fight in small Ohio or Indiana towns. Does The Sacramento Bee really approve of assaults and arson if they are done for a good cause? Does your associate editor really approve of people committing such crimes? There is no crisis justifying anarchy. This is not my America, nor has this been anyone’s until very recently, when we were promised “fundamental change.” If this is what change looks like, change it back right away, please.

Vincent Ward, Fair Oaks

Bullies

Antifa disrupt and bully people. They come prepared and fully equipped wielding hurtful and maiming objects. This is their job. They are not passionate about any cause. It is all about being paid. And your suggestion that they should spread this goodness on people throughout the country is naive, ill- advised and dangerous.

Regina Viani, Carmichael

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