Page 4 - Mid Valley Times 4-15-21 E-edition
P. 4

  Serving the Readers of the Reedley Exponent, Dimuba Sentinel and Sanger Herald.
A Mid Valley Publishing Newspaper
Founded March 26, 1891, in a two-story building on the corner of 11th and F streets, by A.S. Jones
Fred Hall — Publisher
In my OPINION Now, more than ever, is time
to support local business
Recent events mean people still will be prudent regarding vaccines
Jon Earnest — Reedley Editor Dick Sheppard — Editor Emeritus
Thursday, April 15, 2021 | A4 | Mid Valley TiMes Editorial & Opinions
      The longer businesses in our com- munities remain under governmental lockdown, the survivability of small community newspapers such as ours is in jeopardy. Those few words are known in the newspaper business as the “lede” and are words of the open- ing paragraph. They have been select- ed so as to give the reader a sense of what lies ahead in the article.
By now, you've probably read or watched reports on the federal call to halt the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine in order to further examine a rare blood-clotting disorder that emerged in six women between the ages of 18 and 48 across the country. You've also probably heard about new variant strains of COVID-19 that have been re- ported in Fresno County.
These are valid concerns, and they certainly lend cred- ibility to people having doubts or simply not wanting to get a COVID-19 vaccination. And if they're feeling healthy, practic- ing basic good judgment when it comes to socially distancing when possible and — at least as a courtesy — wearing masks when they know they will be interacting with non-family members; indoors or in close quarters.
I relate to both sides on this sensitive issue that continues to divide public opinion. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, I've worked uninter- rupted and generally without a mask at my work station. I've covered assignments and
made store visits fully masked as most guidelines suggest or mandate, and will remain masked if I happen to deal with people up close.
Generally, I was in no rush to get the COVID vaccine, no matter what form (Moderna, Pfizer or J&J). Despite be- ing north of 60, I've remained healthy and only began taking flu shots in the last couple of years after more than 40 years flu shot-free. I vowed to mask up and stay safe around oth- ers more as a courtesy, in ad- dition to practicing my own good health measures. I wasn't against having a COVID shot, but felt no urgency to do all I could to get one.
Yet, when the opportunity popped up last month in my hometown in Kings County, I didn't hesitate. I took the first of two Pfizer shots at that time, and just received my second one on Sunday, the 11th. I can't even say my arm has been sore. I've had no complications, like a third ear or eye popping up, a sudden desire to read up on Saul Alinsky or a craving to bleat like a lamb.
At the same
time, I'm not
sweating the
small things
when it comes toafewnew
variant cases or
should I double
mask. I plan to
enjoy indoor dining as much as possible, begin seeing more of my friends and acquaintances on a regular basis and enjoy life. It would be nice if both sides of this issue bent a little out of consideration for their fellow human.
Tuesday afternoon/evening,
April 13, was an eventful time in Reedley. First was the city's first homicide since July 2015, and then a City Council meet- ing where the council voted to start the process to outsource the city's solid waste trash col- lection services to a private company. There were many concerned employees and fam- ilies at and outside the meet- ing. We'll report more on these events in the April 22 issue.
Jon Earnest is news-sports editor for The Times.
Fred Hall
“The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constant- ly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.”
— George F. Will (1941 - )
   Jon Earnest
  The use of that terminology should not be seen as hy- perbole. Along with the disappearance of small newspa- pers will be local news concerning politics, city govern- ment, community, schools, civic clubs, kids sports and social activities and no one to fill that void. For example, the past year, we have provided the best local coverage of the coronavirus that was available.
Apart from the escalating costs of materials, inexpli- cably we see the cost of utilities and insurance climb- ing. The state of California continues to dip into mer- chants pockets for ridiculous taxes, environmental fees and other considerations which produce no discernible improvement of life here. All things considered, we're no different than anyone else. Insufficient operational capital can not long be sustained.
These are, indeed, strange times in which we live when one finds many locals, who advocate spending money at home, loading the family in the car or board- ing an airplane on the weekend headed for Los Ange- les, San Francisco, Santa Barbara or Palm Springs to do their shopping. Beyond that, we see huge companies like Amazon sucking money out of our little communities on a daily basis, especially during this pandemic. Saddest of all of these bad actors is the local who owns a brick-and- mortar operation yet they shop out of town or online. That is completely counter-intuitive and self-defeating. Amazon contributes nothing to your community!
The revenue and jobs generated by dedicated local merchants is all that stands between our towns thriving and being simply a dusty spot in the middle of the road. Think about the last time Facebook, Google, Twitter or any of their ilk contributed a single dollar to the local economy.
Figuratively, the government has had a jackboot on the neck of all California merchants for the past year, with little sign of relenting. I don't believe it would be hyperbole to say that thousands of small businesses will not survive these extraordinary times. It pretty well goes without saying that all of us truly have a vested interest in supporting the survival of local businesses. You may very well be reading one of them right now!
Two weeks ago, I used this space to thank our loyal readers and share a bit of information dealing with our mission statement regarding service to the community. We pointed out the fact that our little newspaper/print- ing group is locally owned and staffed. That means our owners and employees live here and shop in your stores.
Aside from paper, ink and printing plates, every dol- lar you spend with us is plowed right back into the Cen- tral Valley. It's a safe bet that every advertising dollar spent on city signs from an East Coast-based company — leave this market to never return!
Everywhere, from the smallest hamlet to the largest metropolitan area, there is one axiom in our business — we live and die by community-generated advertising. It's even tougher on us small guys because we are not capitalized to survive prolonged tough times as with the large groups. Truth be told, even those large operators are having difficulty as they attempt to switch to digital, abandoning their all-print operations.
We would appreciate it if everyone would make every effort to support local business, including The Times. There simply isn't anything one can buy for 50 cents that will provide so much entertainment and information as your local newspaper!
But, as always, that's only one man's opinion.
A simple fix for Biden to help make prescription drugs more affordable
 By Tomas J. Philipson
Guest columnist
Americans have problems affording many drugs at phar- macies and doctors' offices. About half of those who are sick have trouble paying for their medications, according to a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
When patients stop filling their prescriptions because of high out-of-pocket costs, the consequences can be grave. One study found that drug non- adherence causes about 125,000 deaths each year.
The Biden administration will soon have a chance to slash out-of-pocket costs, improve drug initiation and adherence, and thus boost public health.
How? By using the "Notice of Benefits and Payment Pa- rameters" -- a massive rule that sets the standards for many of the health insurance plans sold across the country. Right now, the rule allows insurers to shift costs onto America's most vul- nerable patients through the use of so-called "accumulator adjustment programs."
To help people take their medicines, drug companies
routinely provide "co-pay as- sistance coupons" to patients. The coupons work just like coupons at grocery or depart- ment stores; they reduce the final amount that patients must pay at the checkout register -- in this case, at the pharmacy counter or doctor's clinic.
These coupon programs have become increasingly pop- ular in recent years. As of 2018, nearly one in five commercially insured Americans who takes a brand-name drug used coupons.
Co-pay coupons traditionally have counted towards patients' out-of-pocket maximums — the most insurance plans can re- quire patients to pay in a given year, before the insurer steps in and covers the rest.
Accumulator adjustment programs, however, don't count these coupons towards a pa- tient's out-of-pocket maximum. As a result, their full insurance coverage never kicks in, and their out-of-pocket health costs remain high throughout the year.
Accumulator adjustment programs thus cancel out the financial benefits of the drug coupons.
The main claim used to jus- tify these programs is that they
prevent drug companies from incentivizing patients to take brand-name drugs instead of cheaper generics. But IQVIA data show that less than half a percent of prescriptions filled through commercial insurance plans involve brand-name drugs paid for with coupons, even when there are generic com- petitors available.
Recognizing the problem, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule in 2019 that required insurers to count manufacturer cou- pons towards the out-of-pocket maximum most of the time. But it changed course in 2020, per- mitting insurers to effectively charge twice for their services by use of accumulator adjust- ment programs.
The Biden administration would be wise to once again ban these programs when it updates the next Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters.
Tomas J. Philipson, the for- mer acting chairman of the White House Council of Econom- ic Advisers, is the Daniel Levin Professor of Public Policy Stud- ies at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

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