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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 13, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Health care: a sour debate, diet as the answer and cutting costs

The problem with health care? Look in the mirror

The Seattle Times editorial [“Needed health reform must contain costs,” Opinion, Sept. 6] noting that health-care reform must contain costs identified part of the problems facing quality care as insurance companies, excessive specialist income, how medical services are delivered and paid, and high costs of new technology and procedures.

But I think The Times forgot something: U.S. citizens. Aren’t we part of the problem when our behavior contributes to our poor health through excessive eating, lack of exercise, high stress levels and more?

Mom said to eat my fruit and vegetables and get plenty of sleep and exercise. Maybe if we listened to our mothers a little more, we’d be a healthier nation and could then afford as a country to ensure health care is available to everyone.

I’m just as guilty as many when it comes to making a poor choice for dinner and eating too much, choosing TV over taking a walk or working long hours. But throughout this health-care debate, it’s made me think about my own behavior and my personal responsibility to help contain costs.

We’re part of the problem, too.

— Margaret Jones, Seattle

Cutting costs, but not with government health care

Medical costs are a bottomless pit. To control costs, does The Times suggest in its editorial, “Needed health reform must contain costs,” that doctors work for free? That could happen because patients with chronic diseases usually get worse before they die. So much for paying doctors for better care and better outcomes. And heaven forbid that specialists who save lives should earn more than a tiny fraction of what professional athletes earn.

What unnecessary tests would you eliminate? Be honest: Limiting generosity and rejecting some people and procedures is rationing. “Death squad” is a harsh term, but ethics panels and review boards have always had to make tough choices. Our country cannot even make enough swine-flu vaccines for all of its citizens.

Insurance companies are part of the process. Without them, the government would have to provide essentially the same services, and without a profit motive it may not care if paperwork is handled properly and efficiently.

We must remember that we are the federal, state and local government and must pay for whatever we give ourselves and society as a whole.

— Byron Gilbert, Burien

Please explain, how is health care not a right?

We can tell how crucial health-care reform must be because big money, with the help of the crazies, is out in force to defeat it! There has been such an assortment of shouted phrases and signs in the crowds like “Death Panels will pull the plug on granny!”

or “Obama is a Nazi!” or “The government won’t let you see your doctor!” or “We don’t have a clue what we’re saying!”

There’s one sign, very rarely used and not by the Zany Wackybirds, that at least is down-to-earth and adds to the discussion: “Health care is not a right.”

The Health Care for All Washington organization has been using the slogan, “Health care is a right, not a privilege.” The opponents of the health-care reform movement seem to differ on that.

I invite these people to take their time, compose themselves and write back to The Times and explain to me, very clearly, why they believe health care is not a right in this country.

The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that still treats access to quality health care as a privilege and not as a right for everyone. What would the Founding Fathers say about that?

I somehow have missed the reason why people and groups want to continue this disparity and also choose to sabotage this opportunity we now have to reform the system into something we can all be proud of, as citizens and residents of a free and compassionate nation.

I need detailed explanations from opponents out there to clear away my confusion. Please do not simply spew loaded phrases and distortions of the truth to make your arguments.

There must be some justification why we continue to fail to attain universal coverage, even though this country has been attempting since the days of Harry Truman. I’m waiting for those reasons.

— David S. Gooding, Normandy Park

The horrors of health-care reform

Health-care reform must be stopped! Can you believe some of the reforms they have in these bills?

Did you know that if this health-care reform is passed, senior citizens over the age of 87 will be forced into hard-labor camps? Also, did you know that if you get rabies under these reform mandates you will be locked in a crate and shipped off to Armenia, and our government will be under no obligation to provide a return address? That’s right, no return address! Not to mention, health-care reform will require all doctors to use only 14th-century techniques on the third Tuesday of every month.

Now if these testimonies weren’t bad enough, recently someone told me that under this newly proposed reform plan all left-handed citizens who’ve never had the measles will have to get a frowny-face tattoo burned onto their foreheads! Oh, the horror!

I could go on. But I’m positive someone else will.

— Brad Killion, Mount Vernon

What Canadians are saying about their neighbors

Canadians think we Americans are stupid. They joke about Canadian expatriates losing two IQ points every year they remain in the U.S.

They also think we are loud, rude and irrationally tolerant of violence. Next time you feel like giving a particularly polite Canadian a patronizing pat on the head, remember that under that calm exterior lies simmering disdain.

Last week, I heard a Canadian rhetorically ask, “What kind of yahoos take toenail clippers away from everyone boarding a plane and allow loaded guns at presidential town halls on health care?” So where do Canadians get that confident sense of superiority? Maybe it’s the old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” They know virtually everything about us; we’re largely clueless about them.

Or maybe it’s something basic like their superior health-care system. It’s not perfect, but everyone is deemed worthy of care.

With fear and anger, we talk of death panels, socialism, fascism and freedom. Canadians simply ask, “What kind of yahoos leave a population greater than that of Canada without dignified access to health care, just so the rest of them can keep their clunker of a profit-driven system?”

— Sue Griswold, Mill Creek

Don’t forget: Democrats heckle, too

With all the shouting, protesting and cowboy posturing about health-care reform, it makes me think that before we can reform health care in this country we need to reform behavior in ourselves.

Being a Democrat, it would be very easy to point fingers at the conservatives that act both immature and disruptive. But I think it’s time to look back at the previous eight years and ask, “Were liberals any different?”

How many times did MoveOn.org draw a Hitler mustache on President Bush? How many times did Code Pink disrupt meetings or events attended by Republican leaders?

It’s so easy to point out the splinter in someone’s eye yet miss the plank in your own.

— Jonathan Ursin, Seattle

Comments | More in Barack Obama administration, Congress, Food/nutrition, Health care, Politics, Reform, Republicans

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