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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 12, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Health-care reform: Medicare, cost containment, pre-existing conditions

Father changed his mind

In 1965, before President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare bill, my father went ballistic. No damn government agency was going to tell him what to do or how to live his life. He could look after himself, and that was all there was to it.

Fast forward to the 1990s, when my aging father got sick. What saved our family from financial disaster? You got it: Medicare and Medicaid, the very same health insurances my father had opposed during the 1960s.

People will probably treat the current plan the same way: with disdain until it’s passed and then line up to sign up for it, when they see it can benefit them personally.

— Carol Lake, Kirkland

Complete revision unwise

It is time for health-care reform but the landscape is so cluttered already with serious problems that adding a complete revision of health care seems unwise and dangerous.

How about not throwing the baby out with the bath water for the short term? The economy is still shaky and the commercial real-estate debacle has yet to play out and the credit card fiasco looms ahead as well.

Why don’t we move to contain costs first, especially since that is the cornerstone of how we are supposed to pay for universal coverage? See if that can be done and then move forward after that milestone is reached.

A mistake on health care, considering what a large portion of the economy it is, will bankrupt us if it is done hastily and poorly.

— Joanne Crockett, Renton

Choice, not mandates

Lee Fowble of Edmonds [“Not just conservatives protesting ‘Obamacare’,” Northwest Voices, Aug. 10] suggests that it is not “only mean-spirited and uninformed conservatives who object to having a government-mandated health plan.” Really?

No health plan currently proposed by Congress, or supported by President Obama, contains any mandate. Consumers would simply have the choice to partake in a government-operated health-insurance plan — a choice that currently only senior citizens have through Medicare.

So, those promoting the idea that a government-mandated health plan is even on the table are, in a word, uniformed. And anyone who opposes any health plan that contains a public option for all, while benefiting themselves from the public option called Medicare, is mean-spirited. It’s the worst kind of hypocrisy.

It’s time that all Americans receive fair and affordable health care, and private, for-profit insurance conglomerates offer neither.

— Dan Salins, Seattle

We’ll all be paying for health gamblers

I wonder how long Rosanne Cohn [“Resist mob rule,” Northwest Voices, Aug. 12], if she were an insurance CEO, would keep an insurance company financially stable by insuring people with medical problems already evident.

Maybe she doesn’t understand the term “pre-existing.” That’s like having an accident in your car and then trying to buy insurance to have it repaired. It doesn’t work that way.

If a nationalized health plan intends to cover pre-existing health conditions, it’s you and I that will be paying for the treatment.

People who wait until something happens before getting protection are gambling. You win some and you lose some.

— Ed Anderson, Kirkland

Fighting to preserve huge profits

It is easy to understand why the groups that make enormous profits would fight with all their means to ensure continuation of the niche they have carved out for themselves. Private, for-profit insurance companies have covered themselves on all sides: they choose whom to insure, back out when it is convenient, and encourage “malpractice” claims so they can force caregivers into higher insurance premiums — a great money machine as evidenced by the insurance companies’ obscene profits.

What do insurance companies contribute to patients and caregivers? Nothing but bloated overheads and juicy profits that take as much as 30 percent of our premiums. Caregivers are required to waste untold hours on paperwork and to order unnecessary tests to cover their backs. No wonder insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and trial lawyers, are fighting so hard to keep their lucrative franchises.

A number of modern nations, including Switzerland, France and Germany, have Medicare-like systems for all, costing their nations half of our present care costs. They have longer life expectancies and lower child mortality. “Rationed health care” is simply not a problem.

The present scare tactics are a fraud, manipulating people to do the insurance companies’ bidding.

— Wolfgang Mack, Seattle

No confidence in federal bureaucrats

In a recent speech in Portsmouth, N.H. [“Obama takes on critics’ ‘wild’ claims at N.H. forum,” news, Aug. 12], President Obama suggested that “meddling bureaucrats” would not be determining anyone’s care under his health-care plan, meaning a federal plan.

I suspect our president is not aware of the extensive rules and regulations that currently govern every government health-care plan (Medicare, Medicaid, VA, etc.) and guide health-care providers on what is covered and what will not be covered. These rules and regulations were largely developed by bureaucrats, including what procedures require preauthorization to what forms providers must use for reimbursement of provided services.

I guess I look at it this way: The federal government bureaucrats created the extremely complex and confusing laws that govern federal income taxes so I have no confidence in these same bureaucrats developing a simple, fair and easily understood single-payer health-care plan.

This registered nurse is saying no to any further involvement in my health care by the federal government.

— Michael Cloke, RN, Clarkston

Seniors disappoint

It’s disheartening to read about the positions some seniors are taking on health-care reform. I’m referring to those who are opposed on principle to government-run health insurance while happily being covered under Medicare — apparently not understanding that it’s a government-run health-insurance plan financed by the U.S. taxpayer.

And those who are opposed to reform because they believe the federal government is going to kill them when they get sick because they are old — it boggles the mind to think that anyone could be that ignorant of the facts.

I know there are loud voices out there who are deliberately trying to scare people by making things up for political gain. If all you do is sit at home and listen to these clowns, it’s easy to get suckered by them, but does that mean one can’t think for oneself at least a little bit?

Then there are those who have a pretty good deal under Medicare and know it and don’t want health-care reform at all because they think it might adversely impact them personally. What’s a polite thing to say about this position? Selfish, uncaring, not your brother’s keeper Is un-American too strong?

To the seniors who think like this: Come on, use your head and start thinking about somebody besides just yourself.

— Steve Coyne, Seattle

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