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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 19, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Health care

Stellar people, broken system

Dr. Roger Stark writes of a public option health-care plan: “It is not an exaggeration to say that our entire health-care system is at risk with this new plan” [“Obama’s proposal is the noncompetition health plan,”, Opinion, May 18]. And this is bad news?

Do not confuse our excellent doctors, nurses, physician assistants and science with our broken health-care system. Our people and science are stellar; our system is broken.

True competition welcomes a public option. Let’s see what the people choose.

— Margaret Heldring, Seattle

Provide affordable options

The two opinion pieces on health reform by Dr. Roger Stark and David Sirota [“More questions than answers in Obama’s health-care policies,” Opinion, May 18] both don’t get it. Our neighbors do not want to continue in the same uncertain, uncontrolled, unaffordable health-insurance market in which we now find ourselves.

Stark is playing the fear card. Reform means reasonable and needed regulation of the private market. Insurers are good people with terrible incentives.

On the other hand, Sirota wants the president to toss out all insurance companies and go with a government-controlled plan. While it is a tempting urge, my neighbors don’t know what the new plan will be. They want to see what any new plan looks like and then they want to make the choice themselves. Conversely, they don’t want Stark’s proposal to continue with unbridled insurance-company policies and few good choices.

I think President Obama is heading the right direction — keep what you have, provide affordable options, make sure there are real choices (even plans that are public, like state-employee insurance), promote positive changes in our creaky health-care system and regulate the insurers so they have an incentive to compete in ways that help us all.

— Bob Crittenden, MD, Seattle

Government-run system any better?

After reading David Sirota’s column, I wonder if the general answer to his question — “Why Obama’s insurance-industry-coddling inconsistency?” — might not explain the greater problems with a single-payer health-care system run by the government.

That is, politicians often fall far short of promised ends — perhaps because of “payback for campaign cash” or a “desire to appease powerful interests.” But individual discrepancies often flag larger government inefficiencies.

While universal health care is ideal, health care provided by the government would present a host of problems akin to those already evident in the Obama administration — inefficiencies that are the result of ulterior motives and static bureaucracy. Although private health care has its many problems as well, it is not necessarily inefficient.

My point is this: Private health care is not ideal, but can we be sure that health care run by the government would be any better? Would it really ensure the best coverage for those who need it?

— Hugh Barber, Edmonds

Single-payer advocates excluded from reform talks

The recent Senate Finance Committee hearings on health-care reform have excluded those who favor a single-payer system, which would cover everyone with an expanded Medicare-like program [“Status quo in, single-payer out at the raucous Baucus caucus,” Amy Goodman column, May 15]. That’s because the Finance Committee is chaired by Montana Sen. Max Baucus, who allegedly has received more campaign contributions from HMOs and drug companies than any other Democrat.

Accordingly, he has solicited testimony from almost every part of the health-care industry, but has excluded testimony from anyone favoring a single-payer system. Anyone speaking up for a single-payer system has been arrested by police.

In my opinion, Sen. Baucus should be sued immediately for discrimination. A class-action suit on behalf of the American people should be filed immediately — reminding Baucus that he and the other senators represent the American people first and the health-care industry second.

Are there any lawyers willing to take the case?

— Roger Chapanis, Sammamish

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