The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 20, 2014

Readers' Forum 3-20 | Federal government continues to drift

JOHNSTOWN — Don’t believe me? Examine what has been going on with National Security Agency, IRS, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Obamacare, executive fiats and gun control.

It has become abundantly clear that, for a period extending well over the past half century, the government we have today is not the government intended by the Founding Fathers in the late 1700s when our country established its independence and sovereignty under constitutional law.

So what is the answer? Well, it’s time the people take back the government and not allow a chosen few to make decisions that ultimately are only in the best interest of the politician (to get re-elected) and not the people they represent.

Far too often these days, it appears the interest of the politician is placed above those he or she has been elected to represent – the people. That is how it is perceived by many Americans.

You are being challenged to vote with your brain and not your political party. Before you vote, and if you are uninformed, please get informed as to where your candidates stand and what they are prepared to do about:

-- Runaway spending and government waste.

-- Welfare reform (assist the needy, not the greedy).

-- Obamacare.

-- Gun control.

-- Zero-based budgeting as opposed to baseline budgeting.

-- Debt reduction.

-- Social Security reform.

-- Temporary suspension of foreign aid.

-- NSA and IRS.

-- Federal income tax reform.

-- Immigration.

Paul Ferguson


Hats off to entertaining evening

Hats off to Maestro Istvan Jaray, the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and guest vocalists Kathy Voytko and Jeffrey Goble, Johnstown natives.

“Behind the Mask” concert was a superb and entertaining evening.

Thank you all so much for a beautiful selection of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Broadway music.

Please do it again.

Gail Yanko


Duke LifePoint has challenge ahead

The region that Conemaugh Health System resides in is a dichotomy to most of Duke LifePoint’s southern markets, where Duke has done well in growth and market share during the past few years. Key differences in the markets will prove challenging for Duke LifePoint to repeat its success here.

Based on Conemaugh’s own community needs assessment, the region’s census is diminishing while, at the same time, the pay mix is continuing its shift toward lower reimbursement for Conemaugh.

Although Conemaugh’s management has done a good job of retaining clinical services within the region, attracting specialties to the region will continue to be a challenge, even with Duke LifePoint’s assistance and with no feeder network to rely on as other health systems within western Pennsylvania have established.

One key issue is having enough volume of patients to support specialty services. Well-paying clinical specialty services will continue their migration to the west, where the Pittsburgh-based health systems can pay and retain high-end clinical talent.

The Affordable Care Act’s shift to acute care services will continue to erode revenues for Conemaugh, which has invested quite a bit in its inpatient facilities. Time will tell how we fare on taxation since the structure between Duke and Conemaugh is unknown at this time.

As revenues continue to shrink for Conemaugh, shared services provided by Duke LifePoint will become increasingly important and will have a negative impact on regional health care jobs and the taxes that those jobs currently bring to the region.

Richard Lobb


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