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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 17, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Health-care reform

Why rush? A gradual shift to Medicare for all is best

Editor, The Times:

I’d like to add a relatively painless option to the health-care debate that will get us moving toward the inevitable as fast as we can handle it.

We all know that sooner or later, the U.S. must eventually join the rest of the civilized world and go with a single-payer plan. We also know it would decimate the insurance and red-tape industries and create major chaos if it were to happen all at once.

What if we planned on a gradual shift, by incrementally lowering the age when Medicare becomes available to all citizens? Congress and Obama can still hammer out an interim plan, but in the long run, even a year at a time will get us there eventually.

This will give the insurance industry a chance to diversify, and its workers could be absorbed elsewhere or retire along with their antiquated work-based insurance system.

— Jackie DeVincent, Seattle

Obama’s plan will slow innovation in medicine

President Obama’s comment “If the drugmakers pay their fair share” [“Plan may mean cuts to hospitals,” Nation Report, June 14] shows a fundamental lack of understanding of capitalism.

The drug companies are for-profit entities that invested their own capital in the hopes of turning a profit. The product cycle and cost of development are huge and the number of drugs that don’t make it to the shelf is enormous.

The drug companies absorb all of those costs, with no guarantee of future returns. They then try to sell their product to cover the costs, turn a profit and invest in new research.

If the market does not want to pay a price then the cost will be lowered, or the drug will not be sold. This is the drug companies’ decision. To make drug companies pay their fair share will only lower the profit potential of investing in new drugs and ultimately result in fewer new drugs and innovations as capital gets redeployed elsewhere in the economy where profit maximization is not curtailed.

— Kelly Mainelli, Gig Harbor

Single payer is true health care

Simple: Take insurance companies and their exorbitant profits, bonuses and salaries out of our health-care system, and there’s more money to actually provide health care. It’s called “health care,” not “expensive-as-hell” care. Single-payer health care is the solution.

— Beatrice Metzelaar, Seattle

National system will enable doctors to do their jobs

As a retired physician, I have seen it all. Our health-care system is broken, and the only effective fix is a single-payer system, which would use the billions of dollars wasted every year on administering the present system to actually take care of all uninsured Americans.

A public, Medicare-like option will not work, because 84 percent of the above savings available through the single-payer system will not be available with this option. The administrative overhead of private insurers is five to nine times higher than not-for-profit Medicare.

We also know that if there are private insurers, they will cherry-pick the healthy people, undermining the public option.

Health care should not be just another commodity for corporations to make a profit selling. Health care is everyone’s right.

A single-payer national system will not solve all our health-care problems, but it will allow them to be solved. It will provide a structure for transition to a nonprofit system, reform of the reimbursement process, evidence-based practice and quality improvement. It will permit doctors to do the one thing they are supposed to do: what is best for their patient.

— George C. Denniston M.D., M.P.H., Nordlund

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