Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

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Kudos to Amna Kiran (“Clear language on driver’s tests her goal,” April 21) for advocating for language on driver’s tests to be understandable to everyone. Although clear language is actually law under some circumstances, people don’t seem to get it. It is a concept for which I have advocated for decades. As a retired speech-language pathologist who worked with high school students with language disabilities (difficulty understanding high-level vocabulary, classroom lectures, long and complex sentences and complicated language presented in textbooks), I long pleaded with teachers to limit advanced vocabulary that was not an integral part of the lesson and limit long and complex sentences, to no avail.

My dream job was to rewrite textbooks to effectively explain difficult subject matter using simple grammar and vocabulary. It’s not necessary to use “disorientation,” “flagrant” or “misconception” when “confusion,” “obvious” or “misunderstanding” would do. As Kiran knows, students can understand complex content when the language used to impart knowledge is understandable.

My other dream job was to rewrite mission statements to mean something.

Carol Henderson, Minneapolis

NEWSPAPERS

I don’t need yet another reason to stare at my phone

About the issue of print newspapers’ value, Helen Warren perceptively named “curiosity, mutual interest and empathy” as key drivers of digital or print readership (“Community journalism has options,” Opinion Exchange, April 13). Reading printed pages is faster (unless a person is looking up info on a particular known issue), and much better satisfies all three of those motivators. Printed pages can be scanned or read closely so that there is more chance to read about some person, place or thing that is brand new or little known. It is exciting and community-building to discover new interests. Print newspapers are one important kind of community-building tool we still have.

Also, don’t we all need a digital break sometimes? Try it!

Anne Ritterspach, Bloomington

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Coincidentally, I had a conversation with a friend within the past few days about the same subject of “6 metro-area newspapers going dark” (April 21).

I’m an Oakdale resident. We also lost our community newspaper, the Oakdale-Lake Elmo Review, in late 2019.

Lillie Suburban Newspapers, in print for 82 years, also included the East Side Review, New Brighton-Mounds View Bulletin, Ramsey County-Maplewood Review, Roseville-Little Canada Review, Shoreview-Arden Hills Bulletin, South-West Review and the St. Anthony Bulletin. These local newspapers are sorely missed, as will be others, evidenced by the Sunday article.

The answer is definitely pointing toward an online newspaper. Kudos to Steve Schewe of Eden Prairie for taking this step for communication with the citizenry with Eden Prairie Local News!

I’m hopeful there is someone in our locality who will see an online newspaper here as needed and welcome.

Jacquelyn Chlebeck, Oakdale

MEDICAL DEBT

Who’s being prioritized here?

A front-page article in the April 21 Star Tribune told the story of citizens being hounded by debt “sharks” because of medical bills (“Collecting ill will with debt ‘sharks'”), while on page two we learned that citizens in Chicago are frustrated that newly arrived migrants are “cared for with a sense of urgency, and with their tax dollars.”

Apparently, Chicago has already spent more than $300 million of city, state and federal funds to provide health care and other needs to mostly South American migrants who have recently arrived.

This paradox appears upside-down, inside-out and backward. Doesn’t it seem as if citizens who have lived, worked and paid taxes here their whole lives are being abused and browbeaten over health care expenses, while noncitizen migrants’ health care is being funded posthaste? What’s wrong with this picture?

Earl Faulkner Sr., Edina

PSYCHIATRIC CARE

Don’t loosen the safeguards

The Minnesota Psychological Association opposes legislation (HF 3494/SF 4124) that would repeal an existing law requiring additional collaboration for physician assistants with physicians in order to provide ongoing psychiatric treatment for children with emotional disturbances and adults with serious mental illness. This law was passed by the Legislature just four years ago with the support of the mental health advocacy community to ensure the highest level of care for the most serious mental health patients. While physician assistants play a vital role in health care, they typically do not receive comprehensive training in psychotherapy or psychiatric care; thus, they need additional collaboration with a physician to improve quality of care. Furthermore, psychotherapy should only be provided by mental health professionals, who are licensed clinicians with years of training and supervision in psychotherapy, not by physician assistants.

Removing collaboration requirements for physician assistants poses significant risks to patient safety and quality of care for some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable children and adults. MPA urges the public to contact their legislators and express their opposition to HF 3494/SF 4124.

Matthew Syzdek, Lakeville

The writer is president of Minnesota Psychological Association.

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE

A costly but essential service

Minnesota boasts itself to be a leader in behavioral health care with many reputable programs and services laying a foundation for national impact. While Minnesota leads the way with program and service options, programs are continuing to close, and the number of options that once were thriving are beginning to close their doors. This leaves the populations they serve having to look elsewhere for services or go without. The need is there, so why are programs closing and the number of those seeking services continuing to grow?

The first cause is the current reimbursement rates for providers. The current rates are well below the costs to run person-centered, quality care. The provider’s costs for keeping programs open rises above what they are reimbursed. The choice is then to provide fewer services (which do not meet the climbing needs) or close doors.

Behavioral health care is not just a health care issue; it’s a public health and social welfare issue that trickles down to many other areas. As programs close, that leaves less treatment, which causes increased stress on the rest of the medical field and other institutions that are not trained or equipped to handle the needs.

As a social worker in the field, a recovering alcoholic and the daughter of a woman who was failed by the system, which resulted in her death, this is not an issue to forget about or shove under the rug because it will only continue to grow. The clients served by the programs that have now had to shut their doors are not just numbers, they are human beings who deserve to be heard, understood and cared for.

Lulu Sveen, South St. Paul



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