The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 7, 2013

Readers' Forum 12-7 | Jury still out on Affordable Care Act

Submitted by Readers

JOHNSTOWN — As a retired nurse manager, I remember the process used to develop a new policy:

n Define the problem, collect data and examine the issues from several angles.

n Formulate the goals; what is the intended outcome; what are possible unintended consequences.

n Write a plan.

n Start the implementation process (which may be lengthy).

n When completed, gather data, customer satisfaction and statistics to evaluate how the plan is working according to stated goals.

n Modify or change plan as needed.

It’s counterproductive to be a pessimist by declaring failure while the implementation is going on and throwing out the goals. Sour grapes and small thinkers don’t last long in hospitals, which are in constant change.

Think of the complexity of the Affordable Care Act process. Problems with the implementation website is not failure of the law. We won’t know this until millions of people are signed up under the new guidelines.

A healthy populace is more productive, and the status quo is unsustainable by any measure.

This Congress is made up of many small thinkers and sourpusses. The country that invested in its people, built marvels of engineering, invented amazing technology and sent a man to the moon can do this. Our country used to be proud of doing big things.

We can no longer maintain our boasting of “exceptionalism” while leaving many people without health care, and espousing other mean-spirited attitudes. This issue is part of the “culture of life” known as pro-life. I think Pope Francis would agree.

Anita Altman


Normal sewage inflows do not cause problems

According to a friend who is a civil engineer, there is no way normal sewage inflows from residential properties is causing overflow problems at the sewage treatment plant.

He states that the cause of the overflows has always been runoff from the hills, streets and parking lots into the sewer mains during storms and heavy snow melts. Diverting the storm sewers away from the treatment plant is the solution of the problem.

Since residential sewage lines are primarily a gravity-flow system, which is never under pressure, what is the sense of requiring pressure testing on those lines?

And it is not just the pressure testing, but rather the costs of tearing up a whole basement to install new lines when the existing lines fail the pressure test. This is always the case with terra cotta lines.

I have a fully-finished basement and have received two quotes both in excess of $12,000 to fix something that is not broken. This expenditure will not add one dime to my home’s value nor will it reduce by one drop the inflow at the sewage treatment plant.

I believe Johnstown City Council needs to abandon this requirement. The only things they are accomplishing with it is to make a lot of middle- and low-income homeowners a lot poorer, and a small bunch of contractors very rich.

In my opinion, and the opinion of people who are paid to understand this problem, this requirement is an unnecessary financial burden on Johnstown homeowners.

Fred Mickel


Sincere thanks to guardian angel

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the person who found my wallet in a local department store on Nov. 25.

You were added to our Thanksgiving prayers.

The sales clerk did not get your name, but I feel you are a guardian angel.

It’s nice to know with all the bad news of today, there really are honest people among us.

Again, thank you so much and I hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas and a prosperous new year.

C.A. Hall


Numerous tests for licensed engineers

I have been a licensed locomotive engineer for 32 years with no injuries or fatalities.

I have been trained by veteran engineers from the Pennsylvania railroad.

The training included two years on a mainline running passenger, mail, freight trains.

We trained in all railroad equipment, signals, operating practices, hazardous materials, track, etc.

I was qualified to run Penn Central Long Island, N.Y., and Long Branch Raritan Central, CSX and Norfolk Southern. The failure rate of engineer’s school is over 50 percent.

There are numerous physical, emotional and mechanical tests to be certified in. You need two people in the cab or operating compartment.

James R. McDonald Sr.