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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 24, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Health care: How should coverage for all work?

Current system rations care by income

Editor, The Times:

Who will say no? Right now, health care is being rationed — by cigar-smoking CEOs behind the closed doors of corporate offices. Wouldn’t it be wiser, fairer and more American to take these tough decisions out of the boardroom and put them in the hands of professionals, patients and the public?

Should care be guided by unregulated profit motives or by science, compassion and rational policy? Insurance profiteers and conservative fear mongers always raise the specter of rationing when they feel threatened by rational health-care reform.

The truth is that we ration health care now — mostly by wealth, employment and age. The question is: Should we ration by income or by outcome?

— William R. Phillips, M.D., Seattle

Compared with private insurance, public option is cheap

Republicans love to tell you that President Obama’s plan will cost more than a trillion dollars a year. What they don’t tell you is that Americans are now paying more than $2.5 trillion a year on private health insurance!

That’s more than twice as much! So, Obama is saving us $1.5 trillion.

— Rob Moitoza, Seattle

End the tax cuts for wealthy to pay for new health care

The dilemma of where the money will come from to pay for single-payer government-provided health care seems to be escaping the fiscally responsible members of Congress. How about repealing the Republican George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the richest of our society, which have a 10-year cost of $1.7 trillion.

Why are Republicans doing all they can to push for a bipartisan health-care bill? We remember during the Bush administration there was no such thing as bipartisanship. They pushed, shoved and bullied the Democrats for eight years.

Congress must pay attention: 75 percent of voter want government-supplied health care of one kind or another. Private insurance is a complete failure and has been for quite some time.

— Anne and Bill Dillon, Kent

U.S., don’t let yourself be lied to about Canadian health care

Mary Scott from Mount Vernon wrote to The Vancouver Sun recently asking for comments from Canadians about the health care here in Canada and whether U.S. citizens are being lied to.

Wake up neighbors! Weren’t you lied to about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Why do you continue to believe outright and blatant lies so easily?

While there are some people who fall through the cracks or are dissatisfied with almost everything, I believe our health care is far superior to that of the United States overall.

You can bet those “dissatisfied Canadians” who are giving testimony of bad experiences on TV and elsewhere are getting paid handsomely by vested interests in the U.S.

— Patricia Rust, Surrey, B.C.

Medicare ‘efficient’? Those aren’t the words I would use

In Michael Dean’s letter to the editor [“My government coverage works,” Northwest Voices, July 20], he claims Medicare is a government insurance program that works and is “very efficient.” Dean either forgets or chooses to ignore several facts about Medicare.

First, the Medicare fund will be completely out of money in 2017. This means cuts to benefits, higher premiums, higher taxes or all three.

Second, many doctors are refusing to accept or severely limiting the number of new Medicare patients they accept because of Medicare’s low reimbursement rates.

Third, Medicare is far from efficient. Billions of dollars of fraud goes undetected every year. The government spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to fight Medicare fraud and abuse and only scrapes the surface of the problem.

Fourth, the medical-insurance plan President Obama and the Democrats want to pass will be financed in part by large cuts to Medicare benefits.

— Jack Hurley, Bellevue

Medicare costs climb with add-on coverage

Michael Dean stated that he pays $31 per month to AARP for an insurance policy that covers the 20 percent of Medicare Part B costs not covered by Medicare.

This must be incorrect. The AARP Web site lists a monthly premium of $155.25 for Plan F, which is probably the most commonly purchased plan. The cheapest one available from AARP, Plan A, which covers the least, is $93 per month. This is in addition to a $97 per month charge taken out of Social Security checks.

Finally, he does not list the cost for the Medicare Part D prescription-drug plan, which again has a range of prices depending on insurer and coverage, but the best we could do after a thorough search by computer is $21.60 per month.

Altogether, this comes to $273.85 per person each month — for the retired couple $547.70. This total does not cover long-term care, like in a nursing home. Such additional insurance would add greatly to the monthly premiums and be out of the range of most retirees.

We are both on Medicare, and we support a public health-care option for those not eligible for Medicare, but it is important that all the costs and what is covered are perfectly clear.

— David and Renate Stage, Seattle

Want competition? Government is already preventing it

President Obama is right: We need more competition in the health-care industry. Many areas of the country lack adequate competition in health-care plans.

But what puzzles me is why he believes we need the government to provide competition — after all, it’s government itself that is preventing competition.

Currently, many states bar individuals from buying out-of-state insurance plans that don’t meet state regulations. If the president is really serious about increasing competition, why doesn’t he call for allowing individuals to buy health-insurance plans out-of-state?

This would surely increase the number of plans available to people while forcing insurance companies to reduce their prices to compete.

— Preston Mui, Sammamish

What single-payer health care should look like

I am a nurse practitioner working at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. I specialize in diabetes management and work closely with patients with chronic illness, many who are uninsured or underinsured, many whom deal with poverty, who deal with financial burdens from their illness or who don’t treat their treatable illness due to lack of funds.

My dream for health-care reform is:

  • Single payer is the only solution. I see no problem with no more insurance companies. The amount of monetary as well as time waste the current system has, given administrative costs, is extraordinary.
  • Medical health includes dental health and mental health. We cannot separate these.
  • Increased taxes to support these are fine with me, as I will both personally feel more protected, and I will be able to do my job so much better if my patients are protected.
  • The system needs to be portable between states. We often see patients flown in from out of state for trauma care. A seamless system will not allow for cracks such as this.
  • A “smart card” or other such device should be made to give medical history as well as prescriptions filled so this information can be shared between clinics, hospitals and pharmacies. This will significantly help to improve medication safety.
  • Chronic illness management, in our current system, will continue to cripple our nation unless we make drastic reform. A nationwide approach with one payer is the only sound fiscal option to fully address this pink elephant in the middle of our living room.

— Louise Suhr, Seattle

Canadians do indeed pay for health care

No less than three times did your article on Canada’s health care [“Myths, truths of Canada’s universal coverage,” page one, July 21] mention that “government is paying” for Canadian health care.

I believe it is the Canadian people, the ones who, according to the article, “pay higher sales taxes — up to twice as much,” that are footing those bills. The idea that a “patient never sees a bill” is disingenuous.

Of course they do — with every purchase and tax. The article also compares the “bills” between Canadian procedures and U.S. procedures, intimating that this is comparing the costs of the procedures.

Again, this is disingenuous. The actual costs of these procedures is never mentioned, only the bill the patient is responsible for. One could truly compare the two systems if the actual costs were compared.

— Dana Keith, Auburn

Comments | More in Health care, Reform, Taxes


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