Letters to the editor
Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
Monday, May 20, 2013 12:00 am

Methodology flawed in hospital cost story

Re: the May 9 article "Hospital charges in US vary wildly."

All health-care providers and insurance companies bill and pay bills under a system developed by the American Medical Association called Current Procedural Terminology or CPT. These codes give uniformity to the way health-care providers and insurance companies communicate about medical services and procedures.

The study used a different system, whereby they categorized the billing under "Diagnosis-Related Groups" or DRGs. One such DRG you mentioned in your story was for "chest pain." The CPT codes for such a diagnosis can vary considerably between patients and hospitals and regions of the country, and as such, so can the charges.

DRGs are weaker than CPT codes because they involve interpretation of what CPT codes to lump into a diagnosis category. How this interpretation was done and how they avoided discrepancies is not shared by the study authors. They make no mention of this problem in their methodologies section of the report.

Further research needs to be done to make one provider more comparable to the other. This has to be done by CPT codes - by looking at the actual charges for the procedures done, not the diagnosis given.

J. Michael Johnston


Positive things happening in TUSD

I am tired of all the negative publicity that TUSD gets. There are some wonderful things happening in the district, especially in the elementary schools. I have volunteered as a math, reading tutor and physical education teacher for more than six years and have seen some terrific programs that the children have thoroughly enjoyed.

About two weeks ago a group of fifth-graders from Cavett Elementary went down to the University of Arizona tennis courts to meet and play with the Wildcat men's tennis team. Last year when we had Tucson Fitness Day and more than 25,000 elementary students exercised on that day, Carrillo Elementary Magnet School showed off its Students Wellness Aware Team. These are just some of the positive things happening.

I encourage parents to write letters to the Star talking about good things going on at their child's school. There are some excellent teachers in the district as well that do not get enough credit.

Steve J. Gall

Retired teacher, Tucson

TUSD must respond to spending on arts

Re: the May 9 letter to the editor "TUSD should continue to fund the arts."

For decades the TUSD desegregation budget has been exploited as a cash cow, funding an array of items and programs that were unrelated to legitimate desegregation efforts. The current court-ordered Unitary Status Plan (USP) includes stipulated budgetary and programmatic accountability.

In the May 2 article on this topic, I questioned how arts fit into the overarching goals of integrating the district and narrowing the disparity in achievement. The inquiry recognizes the value of fine arts for all children; it does not imply opposition to fine arts programs in education.

It suggests that TUSD must respond to the inquiry, given its responsibility to correlate the use of desegregation dollars to a court-ordered plan. The Mendoza Party will assuredly continue to pose pertinent inquiries pertaining to the USP when the district's decisions are questionable based on lacking transparency and/or correlation to what the USP requires.

We do so in an effort to promote the district's compliance in working towards unitary status within the next several years.

Sylvia Campoy

Mendoza plaintiffs' representative, Tucson

Border 'wall' not cause of ecological damage

Re: the May 13 guest column "Immigration bill needs to end failed policy of mindless border-wall construction."

Having photographed the 262 miles of border along the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, I guarantee there is not one foot of "wall." Dan Millis of the Sierra Club tried to formulate the vision of a Berlin wall by using "wall" nine times.

Dictionaries describe a wall as "a thick masonry structure." We have Normandy vehicle barriers, mesh fences and tubular bollard fences. By design, none causes ecological damage from flooding nor do they prohibit most small animals from crossing.

The desert ecology is damaged badly but we should look at the real cause. The Bureau of Land Management reports illegal crossers drop 8 pounds of trash per day, equaling hundreds of tons yearly. Crisscrossing trails annihilated our desert and some desert fires were caused by illegal crossers.

Let's look to cure legitimate causes of ecological damage, not inanimate objects.

Gary Meinert

Green Valley