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I have directed a nonprofit chemical dependency treatment program for 35-plus years. Until Medicaid expansion, much of our clientele was uninsured, in poor health from alcohol and other drug use, poverty, lack of preventative care and inability to obtain treatment.

My feelings while watching hundreds suffer annually from untreated medical and dental conditions are difficult to express. We did what we could, which wasn't much, usually taking individuals to emergency rooms if conditions were serious enough. Sometimes hospitalization might have been avoided had concerns been addressed earlier.

This work, supported by many, was spearheaded by farseeing leaders like Gov. John Kitzhaber and Sen. Alan Bates, physicians who understand the needs and took political risks to help make health care transformation a reality. Investing funds through the Coordinated Care Organization model is brilliant. It reduces the number of uninsured and addresses our poor outcomes and high health care costs.

Coordination, prevention, outreach, diversion from emergency rooms, focus on primary care and all the other aspects of health care reform are resulting in measurable cost savings and improved outcomes after only one year. This trend will improve with time if we continue to work together with the leadership that made it happen. — Rita Sullivan, Medford

I made the mistake of being late when paying my Medford utility bill. My next bill came with a $25 late fee.

When I called to say how surprised I was at such a big late fee, I was told you have five days after the due date and then you get their large late fee. Because this bill is for city fees such as parks, public safety, sewer, etc., they cannot threaten to turn off a service, so instead they get to charge a big late fee.

We already pay $43.79 per month for these items; the late fee felt like adding insult to injury. So be careful to pay that bill on time! — Treva Evans, Medford

I'm continually astounded by certain letter writers who are intensely interested in the sexual life of same sex couples and — horrors — in their desire to become married.

When we commit to a life together, the marriage license gives us a legal status that might come in handy in the future. That's why my husband and I did it 33 years ago — not because we desired the government's blessing. Why should other couples be denied what we obtained so easily?

The government is finally coming around, so I suggest they back off. Their pitiful letters to the editor might make a lot of good folks feel bad, and also make us wonder about this obsession of theirs. — Sandra Baker, Phoenix

Predictably, Democrats are trying to blame today's collapse of Iraq on George W. Bush.

Even if this low-brow reasoning had some validity, it was the Democrats who were pushing for a war with Iraq. I remember when both Clintons, Al Gore and many other Democrats were wearing out microphones telling us that we must take action against Saddam Hussein because of his possession and use of weapons of mass destruction.

Bush took action and set millions of people free. When that freedom disappeared, so did Barack Obama. It was time for another vacation.

Face it, Democrats, you've done as much for Iraq as you have for Detroit. — Ron Smith, Medford