Another possible solution to nation’s health care issue
Replacing Obamacare with a single-payer system of medicine as Gary Dielman advocates seems like a good idea. Medicine for profit will lead to abuse by the insurance companies — and by the MDs themselves, as they are after all human too. How many ineffective or damaging therapies and procedures have we seen phased out slowly so that we might not notice it? And we must wonder how many are still in place. I recently tried to get access to the OHSU medical library to try to clear up some medical matters and was told that I would need to be appointed to the medical faculty to receive online library privileges. This is a library system paid for with my tax dollars! Which brings up why a single-payer system wouldn’t work in our current top-down political system: collusion between the medical system and government, as well as the influence of drug companies.
In 1983 when I started working in hospitals, the government tried to introduce Diagnostic Related Groups (DRGs) a scheme to fix payments for any particular condition. If a hospital could direct treatment successfully for less, they would pocket the difference and standard reimbursements could then be whittled down. The doctors, administrators and insurance companies killed that one in a hurry! It would have been an example of how, with intelligent and responsible government oversight, medicine-for-profit could work. (There is also the matter of how under the present system, one can patent anything that works — including drugs — but not medical therapies.)
The solution I am proposing is a mixed one. The government would determine a reasonable payment for each diagnosis, subject to adjustment based upon details of the case. The patient would then be free to go to any provider that would accept that reimbursement (voucher) amount. The government would also offer an option of free medical service and hospitalization, manned by licensed personnel. Thus an open for-profit system and a socialized system would be in direct competition. The result, I am sure, would be a dramatic reduction in the overall cost of effective medical care.
R. Mack Augenfeld
We thought Oregon’s offensive against woodstoves reached the apex of its lunacy back in 2009, when the Legislature passed a law that prohibits people from selling a home that contains a stove that isn’t certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
We were wrong.
Now, it seems, not even that coveted EPA certification, which was supposedly so vital four years ago, no longer is sufficient.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has joined officials from six others states in filing a lawsuit against the EPA, claiming the agency has failed to adequately limit air pollution produced by new woodstoves.
Baker City Senior Center is truly a special place
The recent letter from Ramona and John Creighton was right on. I would like to add my story.
My late husband, Leo, and I began visiting the Senior Center in 1980 or so, when it was housed in the Extension Building. Leo soon joined the Buddy Band which played for every dance or function requiring music until he had to put away his beloved saxophones about 1998. Leo decorated the hall for every holiday or occasion. I handed him ribbons, pins or tape. Leo was president of the Baker County Seniors for several years. He passed away June 6, 2003.
In 1982, Peggi Timm asked me to be treasurer of the Seniors. I have carefully accounted for every penny — even those found in the pockets of donated clothing or on the pavement of the parking lot. I have asked numerous people if they would like the job. Answers have ranged from “Oh, I don’t think so” to “Hell no!” I’ll carry on as long as I can.
The season of the weeping birch tree has come round again and our city basks in its unique beauty.
I don’t own a birch myself but am partial to the species.
Most deciduous varieties please our eyes when they take on their temporary autumn dress, of course.
In New England an entire tourist industry is built on the ephemeral show.
Replace Obamacare? Yes, but with single-payer system
Letter writer Pete Sundin and Republicans in Congress do not like Obamacare. Yet Sundin and the Republicans offer no solution for fixing what the U.S. presently has: the most expensive and yet ineffective health insurance system among the world’s First World countries.
Our counterparts in Canada and Europe provide health insurance for ALL of their citizens at almost a THIRD less cost and get better results. Why do I emphasize “third?” Because that is the profit raked off the top by extremely inefficient, profit-minded insurance companies, before they pay a dime for your medical care.
Get rid of private insurance companies and replace them with a government-run, single-payer system and what do you have? Medicare! Take a poll of Americans and ask them if they want to get rid of Medicare, which manages the health insurance of our senior citizens with a 4 percent overhead, as opposed to the corporate insurance industry’s 30-plus percent. Only Tea Party types would advocate turning over Medicare to private insurance.
Obamacare has its flaws — the biggest one being it’s not a single-payer system — but at least it does not leave uncovered 30 million of our poorest citizens in this most affluent country in the world. And under Obamacare insurance companies may not turn anyone down for pre-existing health problems.
Better than playing political brinkmanship, why don’t Democrats and Republicans in Congress get behind a single-payer system?
For a good discussion of single-payer health insurance, go to this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-payer_health_care
Joe Bell is a winner.
That his journey ended long before he reached his destination does not change this essential truth.
He did what he set out to do when he walked away from La Grande, many months and more than a thousand miles ago.
Bell, who lived in La Grande, embarked on a walk across America to tell people about his 15-year-old son, Jadin, who took his own life last winter after being bullied at school. Jadin was targeted, according to family and friends, at least in part because he was openly gay.
Joe Bell was struck and killed by a semi-truck on a Colorado highway Wednesday night.
His pilgrimage has ended.
His message, though, will continue.
And though this must of course be meager solace to Joe’s family and friends, it is a significant reality.
It’s obvious, from the reactions of the people Joe met along the way or who only knew him through media accounts, that he achieved his goal of explaining, in the most personal way imaginable, how destructive bullies can be.
No one who ever heard Joe’s story could ever feel the same about bullying. These people, we’re sure, will continue to advocate for tolerance, and in so doing they will keep alive the cause to which Joe had dedicated his life.
A majority of Americans don’t want Obamacare
Obamacare is at the center of the current Congressional impasse. Republicans have voted to defund it; Democrats refuse to do so. Let’s take a look at the short history of this issue.
In 2008, the American people gave the presidency and control of Congress to the Democrats so they would move the country out of the morass of the Great Recession. Instead, they passed an ineffective stimulus package loaded with political pork, then spent months wrestling with health care. And instead of reducing the amount of governmental meddling in the health care market, they engineered the governmental takeover of one-sixth of the American economy.
No Congressman had read all the bill’s 2000+ pages. Nancy Pelosi famously said, “Let’s pass it so we can see what’s in it.” There was chicanery in its final passage. No Republicans voted for it.
At the time, a majority of Americans were opposed to Obamacare, and in November 2010, voters gave their opinion of Democratic husbandry with a Republican romp, both at the federal and state levels. Obamacare would never have been passed by the next Congress.
Obamacare was supposed to make health care more affordable. But it was never explained how the same government that pays $500 for hammers and suffers billions annually in Medicare fraud was somehow going to run health care efficiently and economically. And indeed, the reverse has been true. Americans now suffer from annual double-digit increases in their health insurance premiums. Many small companies find that they no longer can afford to provide health insurance for their employees.
Federal employees want no part of Obamacare; they prefer their existing health care plans. Labor unions worked hard for its passage, but now they line up seeking exemptions from it. If Obamacare is so wonderful, why do these highly Democratic groups avoid it like the plague?
Most polls show that a majority of Americans continue to oppose Obamacare. Yet Senate Democrats are adamant; they will not give an inch. President Obama vows a presidential veto. Democrats insist on imposing on the American people this unpopular, expensive monstrosity of a program, Obamacare.
City Council urges renewal of downtown economic district
Baker City has begun the process to renew the Economic Improvement District in our downtown community.
Since the early 1980s, much work has been done to create an attractive commercial area that entices people to visit and do business. We have seen a great deal of success since those efforts began. With the initial implementation of the Economic Improvement District, we were able to leverage community monies to encourage millions of dollars in private investment. If the Economic Improvement District had not been in place, our downtown community would not have had the dedicated resources needed to make so many of our wonderful improvements that have happened.
Property and business owners will once again consider the renewal of the Economic Improvement District. We urge our fellow citizens to support this renewal. Let’s keep our downtown community vibrant and healthy for generations to come.
Baker City mayor
Baker City Council members
City Councilor Roger Coles used the term “knee jerk reaction” Tuesday evening when councilors discussed imposing restrictions, or even an outright ban, on pit bulls.
In one sense the term is appropriate in this case.
A decision is sometimes deemed to be “knee jerk” when it’s prompted by a single event.
Trouble is, the term also, in many instances, connotes a decision which is based on emotion rather than on fact — “in the heat of the moment,” to use another cliché.
We don’t believe the City Council is acting in knee jerk fashion as regards pit bulls (and to be clear, Coles didn’t say he believed his colleagues had done so; he just said he hopes that doesn’t happen.)
Somebody has to sign off on all those checks the federal government writes, but why does it have to be Congress?
The Founding Fathers might have botched that one.
Although in their defense, none of those august men ever had to deal with John Boehner.
Or Harry Reid.
Or any other modern politician for whom the words “principle” and “posturing,” which have little in common except containing nine letters and starting with “p,” have become so corrupted as to be nearly synonymous.
Republican Party lacking true statesmen
The Herald’s political cartoon on Sept. 30 offers a good look at the state of today’s Republican Party, which is “stuck on (Senator Ted) Cruz control” as it drives our nation off a cliff in pursuit of unattainable ideological goals. Thanks to right-wing extremists, a manufactured state/fiscal crisis two or three times a year has become the new normal.
Senate Democrats and President Obama would be foolhardy to give in to unbridled, extortionist GOP demands. The fiscal year 2014 United States Budget has already been taken hostage in a futile attempt to overturn the law of the land. The likely next threat is even bigger. Failure to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 will shake global financial markets, which rely on both U.S. Treasuries as one of the major sources of funding, and the U.S. dollar to conduct global transactions. Our once-proud nation could well be driven to its knees.
Should a statesmanlike choice be made, the House leadership and moderate House Republicans could actually join with House Democrats to pass a “clean” budget resolution and end the impasse right now. But there may be no room left for real statesmen and statesmanship in today’s GOP.
What the Herald’s political cartoon does not explicitly show is the Republican House majority leadership, including Representative Greg Walden, cowering in fear at right-wing threats. On one hand, there are tea party extremists within their own ranks who threaten to strip them of their leadership jobs if they attempt to compromise with Democrats. On the other hand, they face wealthy ultra-conservatives, like the Club for Growth, who threaten to fund primary-election challenges against Republicans who fails to toe the tea party line.
New polls indicate that House Republicans may lose their majority status in the next election as a result of their current actions. But that’s over a year away. Maybe we can change the game now. My fellow readers, please contact Rep. Walden, urging him to rise up and put the country first, and use his House leadership position to avert the severe damage that otherwise appears imminent.
Senior Center is a gem that’s open to everyone
Why I go to the Senior Center?
I guess the question should be why I didn’t go sooner.
My husband and I had retired and were doing the long-needed remodel on our kitchen. Food was getting to be a hassle so we decide to try the Senior Center. As we drove up we both looked at each other like really we are not ready to be in an old folks’ dining room.
To our surprise the group was a variety of ages laughing, having fun and enjoying life. The low price of the meals shocked us and the company was upbeat and interesting. We enjoyed ourselves so much we still go at least three times a week. I can’t cook a meal for what I get at the Senior Center.
But lunch isn’t the only thing they offer.
Join them for a large variety of activities. Line dancing, exercise group, tai chi, foot clinic, bingo, pool, books you can borrow. Don’t forget our best-kept secret is the clothing closet that has quality clothes for low prices.
But most of all it is about the people. They have great stories and boy do they know their history. Their stories make Eastern Oregon come alive for me.
Stop in, pick up a menu, meet new friends. Don’t let the word “senior” scare you — all ages are welcome.
The two of us are grateful for this rare gem in Baker City.
Ramona and John Creighton