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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 2, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Health care

Opponents of single-payer system more passionate, vocal

Reporter Katherine Long noticed the 2,500 people supporting single-payer health care, but not the 400 more-vocal opponents right across the street [“Thousands hit Seattle streets seeking changes to health care,” NWSunday, May 31].

Her characterization of the socialized-medicine supporters as “mellow” was quite accurate, however. Brought in on charter buses, the marchers carried predominantly professionally printed signs advocating everything from abortion to open union ballots. It’s unclear how many supported single-payer health care and how many just attend any union-supported event. Their lethargy suggested primarily the latter. They averaged only 13 attendees from each of the 190 organizations endorsing the rally.

The one source of enthusiasm at the rally was the emcee, who repeatedly called over the loudspeaker for them to “be louder than those people over there,” referring to the supporters of free choice in medicine across the street. At one point he even suggested that the sound system was broken due to the noise disparity, although the opposition was merely a collection of unaided human voices.

The take-away from this gathering should be the strength of convictions of those who want freedom in health care. Their chants, such as, “Who will pay?” filled the air despite having fewer participants. Unfortunately, this more engaged and passionate community was omitted from the story.

— Chad Mills, Redmond

Prescription costs alone are too much to handle

This report is prompted by The Seattle Times’ Sunday article on health-care desperation [” ‘You’re no longer covered,’ ” page one, May 31]. Here is one case showing just how intolerable our health-care system is.

I calculated what my wife and I would pay per month for our regular prescriptions only if we were not insured for them: $614 for me and $693 for her, for a total of $1,307 per month or $15,684 per year. And these are pretty routine medications –no cancer, for example. We have also had $594 worth of one-episode prescriptions so far this year.

The poverty income level — $18,300 gross for a family of three — might keep them in prescription medications if they don’t have any other living expenses.

— Thomas F. Powell, MD, Olympia

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