Mental Health Care Crisis

I have been a psychiatrist in Hawaii for 39 years. The article is spot on about the three main factors for our shortage of care:  high cost of living; increasing red tape; and low reimbursement. (“Hawaii’s Mental Health Care Crisis,” Sept. 17) I would like to address the last with a few examples:

• Workers comp treatment fees were capped by the Legislature in 1995 — 23 years ago! Inflation has gone up 68 percent in that time. Before I retired, it was not uncommon for an injured worker to have called 10 psychiatrists before me.

• CHAMPUS for the military allowed close to the HMSA rate in 1988, $129/hr. vs. $135. The next year it was cut to $109/hr. and the following year to $89.

• HMSA froze my rate at $135/hr. from 1989 to 1993. I asked my wife and office manager what our own premiums had risen in that time and she reported — 50 percent. So I went non-participating. When I myself needed treatment in 2010, 17 years later, my therapist was allowed to charge only $133!  As Sen. Josh Green found out one year, the head of HMSA received $1.1 million with salary and bonus. Guess whose hide that came out of?

I gave a lot of pro bono service in my active years but doctors have to pay their bills just like everybody else.

— Mark Dillen Stitham, M.D., Kailua

Honolulu Rail

In his Sept. 14 Community Voice, “Rescue Oahu’s Rail Project with Magnetic Levitation Technology,” Frank Genadio suggests that it is time to rescue the Honolulu rail transit project with American-designed 21st-century urban magnetic levitation technology.
As examples of urban maglev systems, he includes several that are operating in China, Japan and Korea. Fine. But where is the American maglev that might be brought in to save the day? Nowhere.
As a longtime promoter of maglev, it pains me to point out that the U.S. has abandoned maglev development in recent years and has nothing in hand to offer Honolulu or any other city. A technology alternatives evaluation sounds reasonable, but a dedicated replacement effort using American-made maglev to modify existing rail-compatible guideways and tracks is simply out of the question, in my opinion.
Larry Blow, MaglevTransport Inc., Arlington, Virginia

Voter Concerns

Election-related lawsuits, aided by the press, tend to leave an indelible feeling of “doubt” or “suspicion” in voter’s minds; even when a suit is dismissed, as in the case of Cachola and Nago. (“Romy Cachola Voter Fraud Allegations Demand An Investigation,” Aug. 22) Unsubstantiated suits can be a clever tactic to overturn a primary’s results or poison voters’ attitudes toward the winner.

Civil Beat’s reporting of this suit consistently seems biased against Cachola because no evidence is offered; yet, their reporting (often regurgitated by the Star-Advertiser), relentlessly restates the plaintiffs multiple allegations; presenting them as if they were fact or evidence. Allegations, whether from one or 47, remain simply that — allegations; they are not evidence.

Even the plaintiffs’ complaint made the mistake of citing their allegations as evidence by stating “the opportunity to collect and present further evidence if necessary”… “further evidence” means their complaint already contains evidence; they’re erroneously referring to their allegations. Allegations are not evidence.

The plaintiffs also filed a motion for discovery so they, the anonymous 47, might “ascertain the veracity of the allegations”; meaning that 47 anonymous people filed a complaint without any evidence whatsoever; only allegations. No wonder they want to remain anonymous and not wanting their identities revealed.

Journalistic malpractice.

— Steven Crain, Aiea