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The Spotlight hears from a former county chair plus shares another reader's thoughts on an alarming trend.

Editor's note: Have a letter to share? Email your thoughts to Editor-in-Chief Mark Miller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Letters should be no more than 400 words. All submissions must include the name and hometown of the author. Commercial solicitations and campaign announcements will not be accepted as letters to the editor. Submissions should not include profane or defamatory language. We may lightly edit submissions for style and clarity.

Time for energy independence, says former county chair

Frankly, I'm a little spooked with the fuel prices and the immediate effect they are having on our economy.

At the risk of sounding provincial, this puts a clear and immediate focus on our need for more local and renewable energy sources.

We can do our part in reducing our reliance on foreign oil, now and in the future, by making renewable energy and alternative fuels a priority. And we can do it right here in the Pacific Northwest.

The NEXT Renewable diesel facility, planned at Port Westward, presents a domestic solution to our energy needs. This innovative and forward-thinking facility will mitigate climate impacts and has an on-site wetland improvement project to enhance our local environment.

The quality of our future depends on sustainable fuel solutions and a move towards energy independence. Embracing the NEXT Renewable will help get us there.

I hope you will join me in supporting this important and timely opportunity.

Tony Hyde, Vernonia

Medicare should treat obesity like any other disease

Obesity is a growing public health issue for Oregon and America, one that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011, not a single state had reached the threshold of 35% obesity. Now, there are 16 states at that level. Alarmingly, that number was at 12 states in 2020. A survey done by the American Psychological Association in March 2021 found that around 42% of Americans said they had gained more weight than they intended. It has resulted in an average of about 30 pounds in extra weight.

Obesity is classified as a disease by the American Medical Association. Like any disease that is quickly spreading, we must use the best science we have to treat the disease and provide those living with obesity with the best possible treatments.

However, outdated policies are preventing that from happening.

When Medicare's prescription drug program, Medicare Part D, was passed, obesity was widely attributed to diet and exercise choices, but it is critical that we acknowledge and understand the complex and multifaceted factors that cause the disease, many of which are largely out of our personal control. Exclusion of anti-obesity medications from public and private health care coverage restricts patient access to effective obesity treatments, especially for lower-income patients who cannot afford supplemental coverage or out-of-pocket expenses.

As incidence of obesity rises, it makes no sense to keep the most effective treatments out of reach for millions of Americans on Medicare. I hope Sen. Ron Wyden, as a national leader in health care, will work closely with the Biden administration to update Medicare to ensure obesity treatments are widely available for those that need them.

Theresa LoMonaco, Portland


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