From Our Listeners

Your Letters: Health Care, Slang And Literature

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Guest host Alison Stewart reads listener letters about health care, regional slang and classic novels.


Time, now, for your letters. A number of you weighed in on our discussion last week about health care reform. Here's what Gary Maze(ph) of Edina, Minnesota had to say: What would have to change to make medical care affordable - health care or our perspective on health care? The issue is the cost of medical care, not the cost of insurance. When a visit to the doctor for a sore throat costs $200 or more, minor surgery, $20,000, the issue is basic affordability. Would I choose to bankrupt my family for cancer treatment or bypass surgery that had a survivability of 5 to 10 years? I am 57. I am thinking not.

A number of you also wrote in about our discussion of a new Vermont law that would require drug companies to disclose most gifts and payments to doctors.

Alan Edelman(ph) of Arroyo Grande, California had this to say: Doctors receiving anything from drug companies is a smokescreen to divert attention from the real problem - politicians on the hook to powerful donors. It was not doctors, but politicians who put into the Medicare Part D law a provision that drugs would be paid for at list price. Consumers watch television ads from drug companies and demand these usually more expensive medications, a far more sinister activity by drug companies than handing a doctor's staff a few free pens. Why aren't you going after network television for accepting these ads, which usually are misleading and can be dangerous?

Several of you enjoyed Celeste Headlee's piece about a new dictionary of regional expressions. Carol Bland(ph) of Magnolia, Texas shared this.

Ms. CAROL BLAND: As an Englishwoman, long resident in Texas, I have gloried in local expressions ever since 1976, when a Dallas hairdresser noticed in my state of advanced pregnancy asked me, what'd you like to have, then? It took help from a third party to establish her meaning. Do you expect the baby to be a boy or a girl? My first high heels weren't cockroach killers, but winkle pickers, pointy enough to use for prying winkles out of their shells. I wonder whether U.S. English speakers understand what they're evoking when they refer to information being winkled out of someone.

STEWART: And, finally, our conversation with author Jack Murnighan about classic novels that actually make great summer reads brought a number of responses. Nancy Jane Moore of Austin, Texas said she was surprised by one 19th century classic.

Ms. NANCY JANE MOORE: Did you know "The Scarlett Letter" is funny? Far from being a grim story of Puritan life, it is, in fact, mostly a satire. You have to read carefully to get this. Hawthorne wrote in the dense style of his time, and the funniest lines are often buried in the middle of a long sentence. Learning that there is humor in 19th century American literature puts it in a whole new light.

STEWART: We want to hear from you. To leave us a comment, go to our Web page and click on the Contact Us link. You can also follow us on Twitter at nprweekend, all one word. This is NPR News.

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