> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Reader explains $1 pro bono fee
Hello, I am writing in response to Debbie Harbeson’s opinion column entitled “Public money for ‘free’ work” which ran in the News and Tribune Aug. 16.
First and foremost, I would like to thank Ms. Harbeson for taking the time to write the column. It has the potential to start a useful community dialogue about the funding of legal access programs for low income persons. However, with this being said, I believe the views espoused by Ms. Harbeson are too clouded by politics. This is an instance of missing the forest for the trees.
The biggest issue with the column is the characterization of the law (IC 33-37-5-31) as something that forces “neighbors to hand over money to others.”
The force, if any, is negligible. The law only applies to those filing certain civil suits, and while there is an increase in the filing fee, it is only $1. The $450,000 mentioned is an estimate of the law’s potential to generate funds in a year, $1 per law suit (SEE: House Bill 1049, Second Regular Session 2012, Fiscal Impact Statement 9).
Assuming this estimate is correct, this law will provide $450,000 to Indiana’s pro bono legal services. This is $450,000 not coming from taxes paid by Indiana residents or government grants. Yes, the funds do come from private citizens filing civil suits, but it is $1 per civil suit.
Next, the author’s perception of IOLTA is flawed. The IOLTA program is part of a rationale that reduces cost and promotes efficiency. The trust accounts only exist for clients whose amounts are too small or short term to generate interest. The only way any interest is generated is by pooling the funds.
Forcing lawyers to calculate what small amount of interest a client’s funds generated when pooled would not be efficient. It would increase the time attorneys spend doing nonlaw related work and increase expense to the client, all for an infinitesimal gain for the client.
Finally, the assertion that Indiana pro bono legal services are being favored to the exclusion of other charities is false. This law is only one part of the bill in question. The remainder of the bill also deals with legal fees. Imposing the $1 fee for pro bono services is rationally related to the rest of the bill.
— Bryan Abell, Sellersburg
Reader urges driver safety
This week started the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. Please don’t drink and drive. Plan on spending some of your party cash on a cab to and from your destination. It is much cheaper than lawyer fees, SR22 insurance, court fees, impound fees and the humiliation of the drunk tank. Not to mention you will probably save a life.
To the troopers on the highways, please have your emergency lights on if you are going to park on the shoulders of the highway. It creates a safer situation and stresses prevention for speeding instead of the “speed trap” mentality.
— Thomas Kennady, Sellersburg
Reader weighs in on Medicare plans
In response to the letter published in the News and Tribune on Saturday, Aug. 18, stating that the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan is the way to go:
That letter repeats the stale Republican line that $700 billion in Medicare savings would be used to fund Obamacare.
Under President Obama, guaranteed benefits for senior citizens will not be cut. In fact, Medicare recipients will receive free preventive services including cancer screenings and annual wellness visits. Prescription drugs will also become more affordable and the “doughnut hole” will be fully closed by 2020. The spending reductions under the Obama plan are aimed at insurance companies and hospitals.
Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush to create competition between private insurance companies in order to reduce costs. It didn't work, so the Obama plan scales back payments to private insurers. Also under the Obama plan hospitals will be paid less if they have too many readmissions or fail to meet new benchmarks for patient care.
The Romney-Ryan team emphasizes that the conservative plan will not affect anyone age 55 or older. This obvious attempt to pander to elderly voters is laughable. If the plan is so wonderful, why not allow everyone to participate? Do those favoring Romney-Ryan believe all senior citizens are so selfish that they do not consider how this proposal will affect future generations — including their own children and grandchildren?
I believe those of us over age 55 will stand up for future generations and support President Obama’s plan to protect health security now and in the future.
— Carol Jenkins, New Albany