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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 29, 2008 at 4:10 PM

U.S. health care

An opportunity before the disaster

I don’t know why prospective appointee of Health and Human Services Tom Daschle says he’ll ask us what we think we should do about health care in this country. There’s no need to ask the American people when you already know health-care costs are 16 percent of GDP [Gross Domestic Product] in the U.S., while it’s 9 to 11 percent in single-payer countries.

Single-payer countries have the happiest, healthiest and most productive people on the planet. In the U.S., the first conversation one has with a new employer is regarding benefits. With today’s medical bankruptcy rates of families in the U.S., we know those benefits have proven to be of no benefit at all.

With massive job losses, peace of mind is at an all-time low.

The single payer’s strength is its focus on the general practitioners who are the backbone, blood system and brains of the medical community. Our lack of general practitioners in the U.S. also contributes to the unmanageable cost structure we have today.

Medical specialists are the modern version of the carnival barker desperate to get you into their tent with new gimmicks. These medical specialists have exploded Medicare costs, bringing other doctors and hospitals right along with them into this frenzied, money-driven system. Hospitals have entire departments dedicated to battling our fractured and bloated heath-insurance maze, multiplying those skyrocketing costs.

Seventy percent of the U.S. already supports universal health care. The absence of that health care displays the power the insurance companies have on political will. We must switch to a humane single-payer system that reflects popular will, immediately saves money and cares for everyone in this country.

These savings will wisely supply the money needed to train the additional doctors and nurses for the transition.

You don’t have to ask the American people because the writing is on the wall. We know the Chinese proverb that disaster also means opportunity. In this country, we should demand that this current moral and monetary debt be treated as an opportunity before the disaster. Our peace of mind is a priceless gift that leadership has willfully failed to deliver.

— William McQuaid, Seattle

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