Saving for the future
Help for those with disabilities
It likely comes as no surprise that most Americans aren't saving money for their future. According to a survey conducted by America Saves, only 40 percent of households are making good or excellent progress in saving, and more than 27 percent report no progress at all. The numbers are even more dismal for the disability community — the National Disability Institute reports that an estimated 1.9 million households that include an individual with a disability do not have a checking or savings account. Many lack adequate financial education and the tools to grow their savings. Until now, some were not even provided the same opportunities to save as the general population.
Individuals with disabilities who rely on government means-tested assistance programs to meet their needs were previously limited to only $2,000 in assets. This effectively prevented them from planning for the future. But now, this asset limit is no longer a barrier.
ABLE United, Florida's qualified ABLE program, was made possible by the passing of the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, and allows individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 annually without affecting benefits like Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. Funds can grow tax free and be used for a wide range of qualified expenses including housing, medical services, education, transportation, and even basic living expenses.
Florida was one of the first states in the nation to launch a qualified ABLE program, and in just one year, more than 1,000 Floridians with disabilities have opened an account and started to save for their better life experience.
We're proud of this, but there is more to be done. It's important for us to encourage the disability community to take advantage of the opportunity to save, enhancing financial freedom and building a stronger Florida.
John Finch, Tallahassee
The writer is director of ABLE United at the Florida Prepaid College Board.
A feel-great meet & greet | Aug. 11
A young convert
Eli Fishman, a 13-year-old sports reporter, said he wasn't a Tim Tebow fan. I say that there was nothing wrong with that young man, for he did not know enough about the often mocked, strong in his Christian faith superstar, both on and off the various sports fields.
After his hearing Tebow tell the cub sports writer during his interview "I want to be someone who's a believer. A believer, first and foremost, in my God. A believer in my teammates, my abilities, why I'm here. A believer in people. I want to bring the best out of people, bring the most out of people, whether it's in relationships with my family, friends, everybody."
Thank God Fishman saw the light and now is a converted Tebow fan.
Dale Kimball, Wesley Chapel
Single-payer problems | Letter, Aug. 5
Every system has flaws
It's always heartbreaking to hear of folks who don't get the life-saving treatment they need when a loss could have been prevented, as happened to this letter writer's friend in Denmark. In his estimation, that experience exposed a systemic flaw in their single-payer system, but closer examination shows that it's not the fact that it is single-payer. Here's why.
First: He notes that flaw to be the "system managers" who "decide what is covered and where you go to receive care." The American non-single-payer system has the same approach, but in our case it's insurance companies that decide what is covered and where we can receive care. And they make those decisions based on profitability, not health outcomes.
Second: In that any system has its flaws — ours certainly does as well, with the same outcome as his friend's for some unfortunate folks — a single-payer system actually reduces these types of incidents, as it's managed by a single, streamlined, nonprofit, public payer with no profit motive. This was demonstrated through research by Dr. Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of social medicine at the University of North Carolina, and recounted in the New England Journal of Medicine: He found that the issue of balancing access, quality and cost in health care is much smaller in countries with single payer health care than in the U.S. system.
Bottom line: There is no problem-free system for health care, but we can certainly opt for one that has far better outcomes at lower costs.
Terri Benincasa, Palm Harbor
21st century tribes
Tribalism is not a word we are likely to associate with a modern society. It is a word that conjures up images of archaic societies like Afghanistan. Contradictory as it may seem, tribalism is more apparent in today's America than ever before. Years ago, race was the major dividing factor in American society, but today it is partisanship. The hyper-partisanship we now find in Congress is nothing more than a reflection of the hyper-partisanship that exists in the electorate. The tribes of 21st century America bear the names Democrat and Republican, and they are very much at war with one another. When members of the opposing parties encounter one another at public demonstrations, the animus and hatred between them is blatant. Regrettably, today's political divides are more pronounced than the religious and racial divides of the past. The political divisions of our time are fueled by the various media that have become not only channels of politically redacted information but echo chambers of partisanship. Today, Lincoln's famous words are more disturbing than ever: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
Ernest Bartow, St. Petersburg
What's to lose?
During the presidential campaign when candidate Donald Trump said that black voters had been betrayed by the Democrats, he asked what did they have to lose by voting for him? We now know the answer with the direction Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken. Their rights, their freedom, and maybe their lives.
Christopher Raduich, Apollo Beach