Banning guns won't erase motive for murders

If we let them ban our guns, next it will be our knives, clubs, pitchforks and broom handles.

Banning the instruments of murder does not ban the motives for murder.

Gordon Thompson

Grove, Okla.

Ask Medicare questions before Dec. 7

People with Medicare have until Saturday, Dec. 7, to select their Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan coverage for 2020. To ensure you have the right Medicare plan in place come Jan.1 of next year, it’s important to focus on these four key questions:

• Are my doctors in network? Use online tools to confirm which doctors and hospitals are in a plan’s network. A licensed health insurance agent can also help you see if a specific doctor or hospital is in a plan’s network and taking new patients as well as determine what’s in network if you’re a seasonal resident.

• Are my prescription drugs covered? Although Original Medicare does not cover most prescription drugs, many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, or you can sign up for a Part D Prescription Drug Plan separately. A licensed sales agent can look up the medications you would like covered and help you estimate what the cost of each drug would be on a plan.

• What new, innovative benefits are available? Beyond vision, hearing and dental coverage, if you aim to become healthier, look for fitness program benefits as many Medicare Advantage plans offer a gym membership. If you travel or appreciate technology, virtual doctor visits are helpful when you can’t see a doctor right away. Most Medicare Advantage plans now offer transportation to doctor appointments and the gym, when a fitness center membership is offered as a plan benefit.

• What if I’m still working? If you or your spouse have health insurance from an employer, you may be able to delay enrolling in Medicare until the employment or the coverage stops. At that point, you would be entitled to a special enrollment period of up to eight months to sign up for Medicare without incurring any late penalties.

Jeremy Gaskill

Medicare regional president of Medicare for Missouri

Kansas City, Mo.

Support registered apprenticeship programs

This week is what has become known in the United States as National Apprenticeship Week, now in its fifth year. This week is dedicated to spreading the good news with respect to how registered apprenticeship programs can become a vital piece of the puzzle as our nation tackles the predicted shortage of skilled workers.

From 2003-2010, I served on the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s Federal Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship.

In our committee’s early days, President George W. Bush’s administration had us focused on revamping the registered apprenticeship system to meet the needs of a 21st century economy. By November 2008, we had provided the nation with the first major overhaul of the federal guidelines codifying apprenticeships since 1937, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fitzgerald Act into law.

In 2015, President Barack Obama’s administration continued the work of his predecessor and committed substantial investments in diversifying the registered apprenticeship program’s model to nontraditional industry sectors (i.e., technology, advanced manufacturing, health care, etc.,).

The state of Missouri is fortunate to have public servants working in state government who are champions of this system. This collaborative work has been the impetus for designing, developing and implementing several registered apprenticeship programs across the state that are addressing the needs of the businesses and giving students career opportunities.

Missouri ranks second in the nation in new registered apprenticeships and recently hit the mark of 10,000 new apprenticeships, a major milestone on which the state is committed to building. And with 472 registered programs involving 3,600 different employers, the opportunity is there for thousands of Missourians to receive hands-on training while getting paid and working toward an increasingly valuable occupational credential.

That’s why I strongly encourage that, during National Apprenticeship Week, anyone seeking a fulfilling career in a diverse and growing industry should consider a registered apprenticeship program.

John S. Gaal

Retired director of Training & Workforce Development at the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council

Professor of labor-management relations at Webster University

Recommended for you