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Your Views: Preventive care is not a waste of money
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In response to John Stossel's excellent article, "Competition would cut health costs," I quite agree with his defense of the free market system for the answer to our medical cost woes. But I take some issue with his comments regarding preventive health care.

First, it has indeed been proven that preventive health care can lower medical costs for the well-elderly population. By "preventive health care," I refer to something besides checkups and Lipitor. Helping people to learn and practice good health habits is the best way to help them stay independent and healthy.

Dr. Florence A. Clark, the primary researcher of the Well-Elderly Study (1997, Journal of the American Medical Society) and a professor of occupational science and occupational therapy at USC, states that "what we do every day, and how we do it over our lifetime, has a cumulative effect on our health. Eventually, it may determine whether we can live alone in older age or have to enter a nursing home. A critical key to independence is having a history of health-promoting occupation."

Preventive occupational therapy can assist older people to remain living at home longer than they might otherwise be able to do, and this has been shown to actually lower medical costs. It is usually much cheaper for a person to remain independent at home rather than living in a nursing home. Studies have shown that aging in place is what most people prefer if they have the choice.

Second, he claims that preventive health care may be costing us more than health care for an illness. This may be true, but the issue is more complicated than that. His statements unfortunately disregard one of the most important aspects of prevention, which is to reduce human suffering. Most people are willing to pay money not to have a disease or illness.

Given a choice, most people would prefer to have the Lipitor rather than the heart attack, or to have the measles inoculation rather than the measles. Wouldn't you?

Nancy Fowler
Gainesville

Why make homeless read scripture before a meal?
The July 15 Times contained three articles regarding the ever-increasing plight of Hall County's down-and-outers.

Time and space does not fully allow me to express my opinion on the contents of all three articles. However, information contained in Carolyn Crist's article, "Mixed news for Good News," deserves comment.

For instance, Gene Beckstein, founder and director of the Good News at Noon feeding program and homeless shelter on Davis Street, appears to be puzzled as to why Gainesville's homeless shelters are still so packed even though latest reports maintain that homelessness in Georgia is down. One does not need advanced degrees in logic and animal behavior to figure this one out. Feed 'em and they'll come.

Based upon the increased number of people who crowd the dining area on Thursday evening for family night mealtime, Mr. Beckstein acknowledges that he and Jesus seem to have something in common. He said, "I know they don't come here to hear me preach but to eat." Jesus experienced this same disappointment when feeding the multitudes with loaves and fishes.

By far the most profound statements contained in the article are as follows. "Once attendees recite a Scripture verse, they receive a box of canned food and 20 pounds of frozen chicken. The shelter gives away about 6,000 pounds of food on Thursdays and served 40,000 meals last year. Beckstein said, ‘These people need a box of food, and if they can't read, they bring their teenagers to say it.'"

In my wildest imagination I cannot conceive of a more deceptive means of evangelism. Having a person read a verse of scripture, for themselves or by proxy, in order to receive a ration of food must be a new low in the how-hypocritical-can-you-get category.

In my opinion, such a reading requirement makes the Good News at Noon Ministry a cruel, self-esteem destroying sham, and most likely an abomination before God.

Of all the past and present homeless advocates, the Rev. Hosea Williams was the most knowledgeable person I know of when it came to addressing a solution concerning the homeless. During the last few moments of a mid-1990s radio interview, Williams was asked, "Hosea, what can the people of Atlanta do to help the homeless?"

Without any hesitation, Williams answered, "Don't become one of them."

Talk about an example of the wisdom of Solomon!

Dear readers, if you have a sincere desire to help the homeless and less fortunate, continually strive to avoid becoming one of them. However, be ever mindful of the truism that, for the grace of God go I.

William P. Clark
Flowery Branch

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