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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Health-care reform

Replace ‘corporate drone’ with helpful bureaucrats

I worked as a temp for two week in the office of a company that provides workers’ compensation insurance to other companies. It was an eye opener.

The major goal of everyone in that office was to deny claims. People making claims were viewed as the opponent in a game all about the company’s bottom line.

A clerk in the mailroom of that company had an abscessed tooth and no dental insurance. Other members of the staff were able to offer considerable information on how to cope with the pain and keep working, drawing on their own experience.

A public-insurance option doesn’t insert a government bureaucrat between the individual and their medical provider. It replaces a corporate drone who is required to deny claims whenever possible with a civil servant who, while not a saint, might view the sick person as a client.

In the end, we really need a single-payer system if we want to solve the health-care crisis in this country. Failing that, however, we must offer a government option. Let’s offer everyone the same “bureaucrat” who stands between our senators and their own health-care providers.

— Judith M. S. Pine, Bellingham

Falling into debt, or just losing profit, serving Medicare patients?

Richard H. Cooper writes [“Keep the promise to seniors: Fix flawed Medicare system,” Opinion, guest columnist, June 21] in an effort to make the case that efforts to deliver universal health care are unlikely to be successful based on the government’s record with Medicare.

As an executive of a fairly large health clinic, he repeatedly mentions losing money by accepting Medicare patients. He says the Everett Clinic has lost $340 to $464 per Medicare patient per year.

Nowhere in his article can one read that any service expenditure was not covered. My interpretation of his losses is that the clinic didn’t gain as much profit as it would like. I have strong doubts he or any of his medical personnel are destitute. Rather, they enjoy very comfortable lifestyles compared with most salaried workers in their communities.

As a senior citizen and Medicare participant, I resent this veiled threat to deny care to my aged peers. This is a pernicious appeal to selfish interests. I am with the growing and diverse groups in our society who feel that for political reasons seniors have had this separate advantage.

However, we seniors have an obligation to make certain all citizens of all generations have access to universal health care.

— Frank Jones, Seattle

AMA is committed to reform

I’d like to thank Ellen Goodman for an insightful column [“Medicine: culture vs. calling,” seattletimes.com, Editorials/Opinion, June 18] and for recognizing that physicians want to spend more time with patients but are practicing medicine within the confines of a broken system.

In his address to the American Medical Association last week, President Obama also recognized physicians’ dedication to patient care and vowed to listen to and work with physicians to achieve meaningful health reform this year.

As physicians we are on the front lines of health care, and we see the problems our patients encounter firsthand. We’re working for health reform that better serves patients and empowers physicians to deliver the highest quality care.

The AMA is committed to reform this year that covers the uninsured, improves quality, ensures patients get the best value from health-care spending and allows physicians to do what they do best — care for patients.

— J. James Rohack, M.D., American Medical Association president, Chicago

Medicare for all is solution for universal care

Richard H. Cooper wrote in The Seattle Times about the need to fix Medicare before letting government undertake another program.

I agree with all his points about improvements needed to this program. However, I believe there is a way to fix it and do health-care reform at the same time.

There’s already House Bill 676, the new-and-improved Medicare Act. This bill will put everybody in Medicare, and as we know, the bigger the pool, the less the cost.

By having only one nonprofit financing mechanism for our health care, we can save huge amounts of money. Imagine all the premiums now going to for-profit insurance companies whose goal is to make as much money as possible, not make our population healthier.

Also by having one financing mechanism, we can save huge amounts of money for practitioner’s by reducing administration and overhead costs.

Secure public coverage for all will also mean a lot of people will retire that now just work for health benefits, and some will start businesses and provide more jobs because the burden of health-care coverage is lessened.

We already have a mechanism for employers and employees to pay a Medicare tax, so it can easily be adjusted to cover all and substitute for paying premiums. And with a tax, one pays according to income as opposed to with a premium. It’s a fair and simple way of reforming our health-care system.

But most important of all, this system gives us the most bang for the buck, and I do not want my tax dollars to subsidize for-profit health care.

— Ruth Knagenhjelm, Normandy Park

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