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Letters to the editor: Vote YES for referendum; You should interview the physicians

Vote YES for referendum

TO THE EDITOR

The upcoming referendum presents an important opportunity for the River Falls School District.

We have a chance to improve every school in our district and enhance the educational experience for our students. We support both of the questions posed in the referendum and encourage others to support them as well. After attending informational sessions, it is clear the school board and district staff have put together a well thought out plan worthy of our support. We cannot afford to push our facilities maintenance down the road and expect our teachers and students to perform at a high level.

We also cannot ignore that technology has changed education from what many of us experienced. It is important that we are providing environments and updates in our district that allow our children to blend the new with the old.

As graduates of River Falls High School, we both realize the impact a high quality education has

had on our lives. With our own girls set to enter the district in the coming years, this referendum will ensure they have the same high quality education we were provided. As lifelong residents of River Falls, we also realize the positive impact this referendum can have on the community as a whole, not just those with school-aged children. Quality public schools are the reason many families chose to live in River Falls, and this referendum is a big step toward keeping ours at the high level we are accustomed to.

Please be sure to vote "YES" to both questions on April 3. Doing so will help improve our schools and community for years to come!

Kensey & Todd Schultz

River Falls

You should interview the physicians

TO THE EDITOR

As physicians providing primary care to many residents in the area, we would like to contribute a perspective on your health care series. We were surprised you chose to survey hospital administrators rather than physicians—and feel that you would have gotten different answers than those you printed.

There are no other professionals with a better understanding of the current state of health care and the issues that patients are facing than those on the front lines as primary care providers. We sit in the rooms with patients facing dire diagnoses or difficult health care decisions, and empathize with the difficult choices they are grappling with in regards to the cost of care, insurances issues, deductibles, preventive services, chronic disease, and acute illness. When patients can't understand their bills, they are quick to call us to help interpret. When they are trying to determine if a test or surgery is reasonable, they reach out to us for guidance.

As primary care physicians, we see it is a critical part of our jobs to help patients navigate the complicated world of health care. As such, Vibrant Health has been a nationally-certified patient centered medical home clinic for more than four years because we understand that patients need at trusted ally to help coordinate care. As an independent clinic, our only motive is to serve our patient's needs. Therefore, we can work with our patient to select the right specialists, diagnostic centers, and hospitals based on the patient's needs.

Because of the unknown and expensive costs, patients seek to maximize each visit; which means we are often asked to tackle acute illness, chronic disease management, and preventive services all in a single appointment. Primary care physicians are the first line of mental health care and often become the primary provider for mental health. We routinely have patients reach out by phone or electronic message to manage conditions between visits. We employ care coordinators to help the most vulnerable patients by following up between clinic visits to make sure that patients understand their care plan. Health information staff makes sure that records from hospitals and specialists are available for the patient's provider to review and quarterback their care.

Cost of health care will continue to be an issue until health care systems and insurance companies allow for increased transparency, which would empower patients to be more informed consumers. We share the frustration of our patients at the slow paces of improvement in the cost of health care, and stand with them to help advocate for a better, more cost effective system.

If your news organization is open to additional perspectives, we are lucky to live in an area with many skilled physicians and advanced practice providers, many of whom have been serving this community for decades.

Our physicians will be posted responses to your questions on our Vibrant Health Family Clinics website. We encourage our physician colleagues in the area to do the same.

The Primary Care Providers at Vibrant Health Family Clinics

River Falls, Ellsworth and Spring Valley locations

Budget calculating

TO THE EDITOR

So when I hear that the St. Croix County budget has increased 34 percent-plus since 2014, what's that mean? I came up with a higher figure. Read on and I'll tell you how I calculated at the bottom.

So 34 percent is a figure that seems mostly ubiquitous; 34 percent of what? 34 cents on the dollar?

A handful of pennies. That;s $340 out of a thousand. That starts getting up there. That approaches the amount of property taxes people pay monthly for the privilege of owning a home in Hudson Township. One month's worth! So now let's look at $34,000 out of 100,000. That's a big chunk of change. You could purchase a new Mercedes, a 2018 CLA250 4-Door Coupe. Let's continue. Now let's talk some bigger bucks, $340,000 big ones out of a million. Well that's a new home in prestigious Carmichael Ridge. Nice ones too.

Now imagine if you could afford a community of those nice homes. Eighty homes sounds like a nice community. Now get this. The amount that the budget has increased for St. Croix County since 2014 could purchase that new community. Eighty new homes for just the 3-year increase in the budget. Really?

I figured the percentage this way. The average operating budget last three years is $79.6 million. The average of new borrowing during those three years is $21.9 million. Total comes to $101.5 average per three years of increase. Using the average yearly increase of 28.2 ($101.5 million minus the 2015 operating budget of $73.3 million) and divide that by the average operating budget ($79.6 million) over that time gives us around 38.6 percent.

I'm using 34 percent in the example above.

I don't know about you but I'd vote out any incumbent except those who are fiscally conservative. I've had enough of this.

Dianne Joachim

New Richmond

No policy is the worst policy

TO THE EDITOR

No policy is the worst policy when it comes to climate issues. I recently read a paper by Dr. Emily Northrop, Professor of Economics, Southwestern University, that documents "policy inaction and ongoing climate change entail tremendous costs." She highlights how lack of national policy on climate change mitigation is already costing us big-time. The rising number of extreme weather events and their price tags over the past three decades are significant. The average number of $1 billion-plus annual weather events rose from 2.7 events in 1980 to 11.7 events by 2016; while the cost per year rose from $16.4 billion to $79.5 billion. The 2016 flooding in northern Wisconsin caused over $35 million in damages. And 2017 set the record as the costliest year with $306.2 billion in weather-related damages. Who is paying for all this? We, the taxpayers.

Other areas of climate-related costs are rising sea levels and adaptation expenses. The US has many coastal cities that are already experiencing flooding from rising tides and storm surges. The US Department of Defense is dealing with rising oceans that threaten 128 of their installations. Fifty-six are Navy installations, valued at over $100 billion.

Since we have no policy to slow the changing climate, then we will need to find ways—and money—to adapt. This is already proving to be expensive.

Miami has committed $500-plus million on measures to protect their city from sea rise. We will need to protect our vulnerable infrastructures—agriculture, transportation, water sources, energy sector, etc.—from floods, droughts, fires, sea rise, and destructive winds. The price tag will be huge.

Although the consequences of these budget-busting events are extreme, the solution is not. The Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal from Citizens' Climate Lobby will put a gradually rising fee on carbon emissions and return the fee as a dividend check to each American equally to protect us from rising energy costs.

It is a market-based solution that promotes growth of renewable energy, inspires innovations, creates millions of new jobs, reduces CO2 emissions, saves the environment without increasing the size of government! To learn more, go to: citizensclimatelobby.org. Then call Rep. Duffy at 202-225- 3365 and ask him to be a leader on climate change action. Because doing nothing is a very, very expensive policy.

Linda Herscher

Birchwood

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