State attorney general does not need prosecutor experience

I find it very troubling when political ads grossly misrepresent reality. This has been occurring in at least two versions of prominent TV ads critical of Phil Weiser (candidate for Colorado attorney general). The ads suggest that experience in the courtroom, criminally prosecuting individuals, is vital to the success of a state attorney general. It isn’t.

The role of a state attorney general involves almost entirely civil law and civil trials (i.e., environmental law, antitrust law, consumer-protection law, civil-rights law, representing state agencies in court and child-support collections). Criminal prosecution is entirely the job of state district attorneys, not the state attorney general. Moreover, the attorney general in a state the size of Colorado doesn’t try cases in court; the career professional assistant attorneys generally try the cases. That’s what I did for more than half of my 30 years’ experience practicing law, albeit mostly in Texas, not Colorado. Nonetheless, the various state attorneys general are practically identical in their responsibilities and duties to the people of their states.

Perhaps the least relevant or helpful experience for a candidate for state attorney general is a background in criminal or military prosecutions. That is the truth.

Pat Tulinski, Denver

U.S. hospitals charge shocking sums

My then 18-year-old (now 19) British son is a freshman at CU Boulder. When we arrived in Boulder, a few days before freshman orientation, he had a severe stomachache. Not knowing a doctor in the city, we took him to the emergency room at Boulder Community Health. After a brief wait, he was seen by a nurse but neither saw a doctor nor received any treatment or medication and was sent on his way after some discussion about stress. He was there for less than one hour.

Some two weeks later, he received a bill for $3,529. I rang the hospital and complained, very strongly, as I could not imagine how such a charge could be justified. Then, six weeks after the first bill, I received a second bill, reduced now to $2,188.

I called the hospital again and was told this was the minimum charge for a visit to the emergency room. I was then told, however, that I could pay a reduced 50 percent on my son’s behalf, provided I did so within 30 days, or spread the payments over a period of time with no reduction. When I asked why we were not advised of the cost when we entered, I was told that was illegal. What other business can charge whatever it likes without informing its customers first?

While I understood there would be some cost, that a brief visit and conversation could give rise to such an outrageous and extortionate sum is truly shocking. We have an international, family health care policy, but why should my insurance company have to pay this wholly unreasonable amount?

We regularly read of the costs of U.S. health care, but if this is the way so-called “not for profit” hospitals operate, why is nothing done about it? I have learned that CEOs of “not for profit” hospitals are the highest paid group of CEOs in the country. No wonder, as they can apparently practice a Mafia-like extortion racket on any students who have chosen to study in the U.S. An American studying in Europe who was taken ill can expect free medical attention — this is a basic right. Yet Boulder hospitals are ready to charge students who have come to your city whatever they can get away with, at least until challenged.

Guy Sainty, London

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