Letters to the Editor for May 18, 2011
A reason to be mad about health care
To the editor:
Recently, I attended a presentation at the library by the “Mad as Hell Doctors” (Physicians for a National Health Program). They told how the American health system costs twice as much per capita as that of other industrialized countries which provide single payer health coverage. Not only is our system too expensive, it has gaping holes that leave so many people out.
Now I am “mad as hell.” I just heard on the news that my insurance provider, Regence Blue Cross of Oregon, has applied to raise the premiums of its 59,000 individually insured policy holders — that’s me — by 22 percent! Last year Blue Cross raised my premium by 15 percent, and also forced us to choose new plans in the middle of the year (more cost, less coverage). This increase did not affect their group policy rates. Instead they laid their need for greater profits on the backs of those least likely to be able to afford it or to find relief elsewhere. Sound familiar?
So, if the increase is approved, my high deductible health care premium will cost nearly $8,000 a year. This is no Cadillac plan like they talked about in Washington. No wealthy employer is picking up the tab. $8,000 is more than many of our county residents have to live on for an entire year. How are we going to be a healthy prospering nation when we are spending twice as much and getting less than countries with single payer health systems? I encourage everyone who is an individual health insurance policy holder to be mad as hell too. We are being taken advantage of and the system needs to change.
Working together for a better country
To the editor:
I say “Bravo!” to Elliott Averett for highlighting (May 13) significant economic and social problems we face in Baker County. It is inspiring to see a young person analyze a situation and call us to join together to work on important problems. The possibility of harnessing new social networking technologies to bring us together is doubly encouraging. It’s revolutionary, in a very positive sense.
The revolutions in the Arab world are a sign of deep unrest and dissatisfaction. We have the ingredients for similar unrest here, but it would look different. For in the United States of America we have two extremely powerful tools: our free speech and our votes! There is no limit to what we can accomplish if we work together.
Many of Baker County’s economic problems are structural and are shared across the nation. As a person two generations ahead of Mr. Averett’s, I can offer perspective on the United States of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, the country in which I grew up. Then, there was a vibrant, expanding, and optimistic middle class, and relative equality of wealth. Government was on our side.
Today, it’s like someone has dipped a giant soda straw into our economic milkshake and sucked the life out of the middle class. Millions of good-paying jobs were lost to globalization, automation, and union decertification, even before the Great Recession. But the rewards from this “increased productivity” have flowed to only an elite few.
We have many more millionaires and billionaires today, even accounting for inflation. And many of them are funding and supporting politicians who have cut income taxes and estate taxes to historic lows and are now planning additional trillions in tax cuts for the wealthy, while deceptively espousing debt reduction.
Some of us geezers in Baker County have created a new website, www.progressivevalues.us, which addresses these structural issues and suggests possible remedies which could ease the educational and health problems cited by Mr. Averett. But there is much more that our community’s creativity could accomplish to enhance the prospects for his generation.
Let’s follow Elliott Averett’s lead.
Thanks for help with clean up
To the editor:
I would like to thank the statewide organization SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism) for helping us sponsor a community clean-up event along the Leo Adler Memorial Pathway, Baker Sanitary Service for providing special waste collection facilities, Lew Brothers Les Schwab Tires for donating special service, and Ash Grove Cement for tire collection and re-use.
These partners helped us clean up large volumes of trash and help mediate an illegal dump site near Wade Williams Park. Also, Mike Clark, a member of the Baker City Tree Board, donated the use of his personal truck and a whole lot of physical labor to clean up the dump site with me.
Despite the rain, we had eight volunteers who gathered litter today and made a great contribution to making our community a little cleaner and safer. I want to thank them all.
GOP wants to gut our safety net
To the editor:
In April our Representative Greg Walden voted for the GOP’s budget which effectively ends Medicare, slashes Medicaid, drastically cuts domestic spending AND extends tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
Medicare in its present form represents freedom for senior citizens. Freedom from being at the mercy of big insurance companies who add 15-30 percent to health care costs for overhead and profit and have the power to deny and delay claims and raise premiums. (My premiums have risen each of the last three years as it did for my employers every year — a good argument for Improved Medicare for All.) According to the Social Security Administration only 13 percent of the elderly had health insurance when Medicare was enacted in 1965. Medicare was created because seniors couldn’t afford health insurance and insurance companies didn’t want to cover seniors because of their high costs.
Because of the public’s backlash against killing Medicare, Republicans are changing tactics. Instead of outright killing it, they are now proposing spending caps to trigger massive cuts to Medicare. These spending caps are still nothing more than a kill switch.
The Republican plan is not just bad policy, it is immoral. We can’t balance the budget on the backs of senior citizens and the poor (who make up a large percentage of Baker County resident as pointed out in Elliott Averett’s May 13 letter). Not while we are giving huge tax breaks and subsidies to big corporations and income tax rates for the wealthy are at historic lows.
So while it may appear Republicans have started backing away from their immoral budget, don’t be fooled. As Rep. Boehner said that is just “for now.” The minute America has a Republican president with a Republican majority in the House and Senate, they will move to privatize (kill) Medicare and Social Security so fast it will make your head spin. A vote for ANY Republican is a vote to kill Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance, etc.