Former News Leader editor

a consummate newsman

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

We have been close friends with Nancy and Jerry Finch for nearly 50 years. We first met at church and soon learned that we had been married on the same day and at the same hour, albeit 600 miles apart. Needless to say, we have shared many anniversary celebrations. Their three youngest children — girl, boy, boy — and our three oldest — boy, girl, girl — were church and school friends. We often vacationed together. Jerry was always calm and patient, despite the turmoil. We shared many glasses of wine and many meals. The most remarkable thing about Jerry was that he never discussed politics. We had no idea as to his personal views. Our take is that Jerry was the consummate reporter/editor in his personal life as well as his professional life. He believed that news should be factual and that opinion should be relegated to the editorial pages. Our family will miss him.

Jane & David Hostetler.


Reader says Medicare

‘is the real deal’

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

My friend Steve Haner doesn’t like Medicare. In his recent op-ed column, “Real Medicare Doesn’t Match Political Promises,” he complains that he and his wife “had been on Medicare exactly two days when our first premium increase notice arrived, a nice healthy 5% jump.” As someone who has been enjoying the benefits of Medicare for 20 years, as opposed to Haner’s two days, let me assure him that Medicare is the real deal — like Social Security. Then after griping that “This isn’t the Medicare Heaven that I keep hearing about” from Democrats Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren,” he gets around to confessing that, well, no, it really wasn’t Medicare that went up, but a supplemental policy. My wife and I, too, have supplemental policies, and they do increase annually, as you can expect when you trust your insurance to for-profit companies. And my concierge practice, Partner MD, continues to gladly accept Medicare patients. Haner also writes, based on his 48 hours of experience, that Medicare has “plenty of quirks and some things that are not covered, often making Medicare just as frustrating as the private insurance world.” We have found just the opposite. Rarely, and I mean like almost never, have we had to pay out-of-pocket expenses for health care other than drugs, dentistry and hearing aids. And the only time we have to fill out a form is when we go to a new provider.

Don Baker.


Medicare recipient

extols its benefits

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Stephen Haner’s recent op-ed column on the fallacies of Medicare don’t quite mesh with reality. Some things do require a large and singularly coordinated solution to be effective on both the cost and provision of service levels. And no one can rationally argue that this country’s health insurance system is not broken under the current private insurer model.

I was self-employed for more than 30 years, and at retirement my individual health care policy was costing me more than $18,000 a year before deductibles and co-pays. And there were lots of hassles. Despite Haner’s claims to the contrary, my experience is that Medicare is nowhere near as frustrating or as costly as my decades of experience with private health insurers. For about $425 a month, I now enjoy Medicare A and B coverage along with prescription drug and supplemental plans from private providers, which fill in almost all of the medical doughnut holes not covered by basic Medicare. All three premiums are automatically withdrawn from my bank account monthly. There is nothing “to keep track of,” as Haner suggests, and certainly no need to have access to a human resources department “when things get dicey,” as he proposes.

At Haner’s former workplace, he might have enjoyed a gold-plated health care plan. Good for him. But for many of the rest of us who were paying huge monthly premiums that increased exponentially every year, Medicare seems like a really good alternative. My sense is that his objections to it are based more on opposition to a large, government-run program than to the reality of its effectiveness.

Mark Singer.


Studying the arts

enriches lives

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I read Correspondent of the Day Lawrence Haake III’s letter, “Music an important part of education,” with great appreciation and fond memories. In this day, as the arts are being stripped from the curriculum of our public schools in favor of more and more STEM studies, we should remember that not all students are gifted in these areas. In removing the arts from our schools, we are robbing many young people of the opportunity to discover some of humanity’s greatest achievements and of forging their own paths of excellence in these areas. We must continue to give students the opportunity to study great works of art, literary classics, philosophical treatises and the music of the masters. I know that my life has been immeasurably enriched by my time spent involved in the world of music.

I attended James Madison High School in Northern Virginia in the early 1970s. I sang in both the concert choir and Madison’s a cappella group. My music director during those years had been a student of French composer, conductor and teacher Nadia Boulanger. During my four years in that public school, we performed at the Kennedy Center, the National Gallery of Art, the Folger Shakespeare Library and Carnegie Hall, as well as numerous other performing arts venues. The highlight was performing under the baton of Aaron Copeland, singing one of his own compositions. In college, I stayed in the area and sang with both the Oratorio Society of Washington and the choir of St. Matthew’s Cathedral.

Since those days, music has continued to be an integral part of my life, and it has been an important part of my career. For all of this, I am indebted to my music education in the Fairfax County public schools system. The arts: Don’t leave our schools without them.

Kirby D. Smith.


Reader enjoyed column

loaded with a-peel

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In a recent Opinions column, Robin Beres wrote, “The world would go ape without bananas.”

Hilarious! Write on!

Scott Duprey


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