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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 15, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Health-care reform

KC employees’ health care already saving millions

Voters would be wise to reject any candidate for King County executive who argues that county employees should pay toward their health-care premium [“King County employees should pay part of health tab,” editorial, June 9]. Isolating and politicizing the issue of health-care premiums ignores the other elements that affect the cost of benefits and the advantages to the county of having all employees on a single plan.

This year, King County employees and their unions agreed to dramatic changes in the county health plans that will save the county $37 million over three years. These bargained changes save $70 per month per employee, far more than the $41.20 premium share suggested by The Seattle Times. The county also benefits by maintaining all employees on a single plan. If premium share were required, it would lead to an erosion of the unified compensation and benefit structure that exists.

This county’s economic problems are not caused by the wage-and-benefit package offered to its employees. A much better litmus test for the candidates would be their proposals for addressing the economy and the county’s structural, continuing revenue problem.

— Tracey A. Thompson, Teamsters Local 137 secretary-treasurer, Seattle

AMA out of touch with most doctors

As a medical student at the University of Washington and a future physician, I am extremely disappointed that the American Medical Association (AMA) opposes Americans having the choice of a public health-insurance option.

As was acknowledged in your article [“AMA wary of Obama call for public health insurance,”, Health, June 11], the AMA represents only a small fraction of doctors in the country, and by attempting to block this necessary reform, the association shows itself to be out of touch with the majority of physicians.

As a leader and member of the independent American Medical Student Association (AMSA), I support a public health-insurance option that is open to all. The private-insurance industry has shown its inability to keep health care affordable and reliably available. A recent study published in The American Journal of Medicine showed that having private insurance does not necessarily cover you or protect you from bankruptcy should you become sick.

I fear that I will be inheriting a system where profit-driven companies stand between me and my patients. The solution begins with a real public-health insurance option so Americans have another choice.

— Colin McCluney, University of Washington AMSA chapter president, Seattle

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