THAT COVER…

Minneapolis

When I saw the September 24 cover, I was immediately captivated by the Chuck Close style of painting. A closer look showed an extraordinary composite of the photos of American men and women who have paid with their lives… for what? I sat down and wept.

PHYLLIS J. PETERSON


Ardsley, N.Y.

Is the original artwork for the cover of the September 24 issue available for purchase, or, failing that, can one purchase a reproduction? It is a stunning statement of the cost of George W. Bush’s colossal folly, and the artist should be highly complimented.

MICHAEL ZINMAN


Baltimore

Devastating.

J. BASMAJIAN


Longmont, Colo.

Two years into the Iraq War I completed a project that became the cover of the online magazine Purgatorius (www.purgatorius.org/Archives/2005Apr-Jun/Cover1.html). I compiled photos of the 1,525 US troops who had been killed in Iraq from March 19, 2003, to March 19, 2005, as well as photos of dead Iraqi children to symbolize the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians who had been killed, and arranged them into a partial mosaic of George W. Bush, the man primarily responsible for their deaths. Placing the photos in the mosaic was a poignant experience: Here were farm boys from Wisconsin, ghetto girls from LA and babies from Baghdad–dead because of the policies of our government.

Sadly, as your cover shows, there are now enough dead troops to form a complete mosaic of Bush–and the number of dead Iraqis has jumped to six figures. We need to remember that this war is still going on in our name, and that we have a responsibility to end it as soon as possible.

LUC NADEAU


Daly City, Calif.

Is there any way my friends and I can acquire copies of the September 24 cover art–the portrait of George W. Bush composed of photographs of military personnel? Everyone I showed it to was overwhelmed with emotion.

BARBARA McNEILL

Good news for our many readers who have inquired about the September 24 cover art. A poster is in the works.    –The Editors


HEALTHCARE BAIT & SWITCH

Mount Prospect, Ill.

I was happy to learn from Trudy Lieberman’s “The Medicare Privatization Scam” [July 16/23] that my and my co-workers’ ire at Humana’s marketing of Medicare Advantage plans is well placed. I work for a large oncology group, and we have had many problems as more and more patients with Humana Medicare plans come to us. Our policy is not to participate in Medicare Advantage plans, because they pass so much of the cost of cancer treatment on to the patient. Subscribers are not allowed to retain any supplemental plan from their traditional Medicare, and they are surprised to find that they are responsible for 20 percent of the cost of drugs administered in the office. The patient’s portion for treatment can add up to thousands and thousands of dollars.

At a meeting sponsored by Humana Medicare Advantage, largely focused on Humana’s increased presence in the Medicare Advantage market, I spoke with the regional director of sales about how the plans are marketed, because our staff has had to spend a tremendous amount of time educating patients about their coverage. We later met with the Humana Medicare Advantage head of provider relations and a sales manager. They were shocked to find out what patients are having to pay out of pocket for cancer treatment.

In the meantime Humana is pressuring physicians to contract directly with it and drop the contracts we have through independent physicians’ associations and physician hospital organizations. The direct contract reimburses at a much lower rate; Humana tells us we will soon not have any choice but to accept what it offers.

THERESA HART


Lynchburg, Va.

Humana is even more insidious than Trudy Lieberman’s description. After living in England for many years–and receiving free healthcare–I retired to Virginia in 2005. First I took a Humana Part D policy but later signed up for its Gold Choice PFFS policy. The representative had an easy task. He offered Medicare Advantage free of charge; I would pay just $550 for each Medicare-covered hospital stay instead of $992; my previous year’s $20 a month for Part D was included, so I saved that; and he offered free membership at the local YMCA or health club. It all seemed too good to be true.

The first hint that something might not be right came when I went to my primary care physician. He told me many doctors do not approve of Humana and that he did not accept Humana patients. I protested to Humana, and it sent me a list of local doctors who accept its plan. I did not understand then the unpleasant politics behind Humana and others. I now know Bush has been throwing billions to these companies to undermine government health programs. I am appalled.

BILL HAYNES


San Francisco

After reading Trudy Lieberman’s article on Medicare, I am happy I am very old and living on my Social Security. It really scared me. I may be able to get medical care until I die, that is if Georgie and Dick don’t manage to stop the election in 2008. Is this just one more of the attempts to wipe out all the social programs we’ve had in place since FDR? I have children and grandchildren, so I pray that 2008 will bring a responsible Democratic Administration with enough clout and sense to bring back the programs lost to us in the past seven years. It would also be nice to see the entire Bush Administration sent to the World Court in The Hague for ruining our country.

PEGGY CARTWRIGHT