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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 11, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Health-care reform: “death panels,” spiraling costs

Preventive health care will save lives, money

As a registered nurse for going on 36 years I have seen it all. I have seen the diabetic comas in the intensive care unit because people did not get any health care until they hit the emergency room. I have seen the late-stage fatal colorectal cancers that could have been avoided with simple screening tests done earlier.

The misery and money that could be saved by having basic preventive health care for everyone can’t possibly be disputed. We must enact reform this time, this year. The cost of not doing it will bankrupt us.

We are by and large practicing ineffective, expensive, uncoordinated health care in this country. We do not have a “system” except in some areas where you see effective group practices. Elsewhere, we have fragments.

Those without insurance crash into the system through the most expensive doors, which is care we all wind up paying for with higher premiums. Those with insurance find themselves disqualified through some loophole if they do get it. And God help you if you lose your job and are ill.

We need a strong public option for those who want to buy it for themselves. An option where no one can say you aren’t allowed to renew the policy if you get sick.

Personally, I like my insurance. I will keep it. But if I lose my job or get too sick to work I want to be able to choose a public plan.

This is what President Obama is promising. I say get it done now!

— Vicki Neumeier, Redmond

Palin, others should stop making things up

Sarah Palin, in her goodbye speech, exhorted the media to “stop makin’ things up!”

Then she proceeds to make up — er, lie — about the president’s health-care reform, saying that there will be “Obama death panels.”

And some people believe her. Really, where has critical thinking gone in this country?

Once again the GOP is resorting to lies to scare the American people into acting against their own better interest.

Please, don’t believe what you hear on Fox News or from Republicans on the floor of the House. Read the legislation for yourself.

Last November, the American people overwhelmingly voted for President Obama. We knew his agenda and we voted for it. Now a minority in this country is trying to derail what we the American people voted for.

They are saying that government will completely take over health care. False.

They say the elderly will be required to consult with a doctor every five years about ending their lives. False.

Read the proposed legislation. It says that Medicare will now pay for any end-of-life counseling discussions you wish to have with your doctor. No requirements. All your choice. This is a good thing.

They say private plans will be outlawed. False.

The legislation states that private plans will still be available, but they must be purchased through the national health-insurance exchange. This will ensure that people with pre-existing conditions will be able to get coverage. This is a good thing.

There are a whole host of lies being propagated by the Republicans. Why?

Because they are bought and paid for by the health-insurance industry. They don’t care about regular people. They only care about making the rich corporations richer and they care about making the president look bad so they can once again regain power and once again spend our tax dollars on unnecessary wars to make military contractors rich instead of spending money on making this nation healthy and productive.

— Rod Barbee, Port Ludlow

Resist mob rule; get informed

What a joke … a death panel! Where have people been for the past umpteen years? Are they not paying attention to what’s happened around them? Do they not realize that the insurance companies have had “death panels” for a long time?

Denying people insurance due to “pre-existing conditions,” refusing to pay for special procedures, driving people to court to sue in order to get lifesaving procedures for cancer and other life-threatening diseases — Americans need to wake up.

Stop yelling irrationally and start asking the right questions in a dignified, democratic manner. It’s absurd to follow these Internet rally-hounds without asking first who’s behind it? Mob rule is wrong and we should be resisting it by being smart and well-informed.

— Rosanne Cohn, Redmond

Look at hospital, doctor costs

If Congress really wanted to cut the medical costs they should look at the exorbitant cost that hospitals and doctors charge. It appears to me that the insurance companies are the only ones who are trying to hold down these costs.

If Congress made it easier for doctors and nurse practitioners to graduate and start practice without being in debt for years, they would not have to charge such high rates. Right now there are not enough doctors or nurse practitioners to take care of the smaller communities.

Congress is great at throwing money at unimportant projects; why not cover the tuition cost of our best students with medical aptitude to increase the numbers of doctors and nurse practitioners? Invest in clinics to compete with the hospitals or at least investigate who is making all the money these hospitals drag in.

Finally, eliminate the exorbitant jury awards.

— Charles E. Kessler, Seattle

Designed for profits, not patients

The health-care system in the U.S. is stupid. It is designed for profits, not for patients.

To have affordable health care you need to have a job, which means you cannot be sick in the first place.

Health care must cover everyone. To help bring down costs, we need a single-payer system. A public-insurance option helps us go in the direction of universal coverage and low cost.

— Ellen Duffield, Seattle

Harry and Louise: the sequel

Michael Kinsley’s commentary [“Suddenly, health insurers are singing a different tune,” Opinion, Aug. 9] elaborates on the insurance lobby’s Harry and Louise ads. In contrast to their 1993 edition, the insurers have decided that they will accept all comers if everybody is required to sign up for health-insurance coverage.

All the major variants on reform that are before Congress buy into this. The health-care lobbyists state that “health-care reform is far too importance to be dragged down by divisive political rhetoric.”

Sure, there is fine tuning that will have to take place over time; but let’s take the first step toward a major overhaul of an inadequate, destructive system that leaves millions without medical care.

Come on, feet draggers, jump on the wagon for decent reform.

— Jack Ballard, Port Ludlow

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