A reason to be mad about health care
To the editor:
Recently, I attended a presentation at the librarybythe "Mad as Hell Doctors"(Physicians for a National Health Program.Theytold) howthe Americanhealth system costs twice as much per capita as that of other industrialized countrieswhichprovide single payer health coverage.Not only is our systemtooexpensive, ithas gaping holes thatleave so many people out.
Sometimes terrible choices must be made, such asbetween using up
financial resources accumulated over a lifetimein an ultimately futile
battle against cancer, orby foregoing treatment, to leavethe family
with the resources to survive.The Mad as Hell Doctors recommend an
ImprovedMedicare forAll program - everybody in, nobody out - a system
providing private medical care withlowadministrative costslike
Medicare (3 percent verses 23 percent).
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 ofits 59,000individually insured policy holders - that's me
- by 22 percent!Last yearBlue Crossraised my premium by 15 percent,
and also forced us tochoose new plans in the middle of the year (more
cost, less coverage). This increase did not affect their group
policyrates.Instead they laidtheir need for greater profitson the
backs of those least likely to be able to afford it or to find relief
So, if the increase is approved,my high deductible health carepremium
will costnearly $8,000 a year.This is noCadillac 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
nationwhen we are spendingtwice as muchand 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 ofand 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
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
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
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 asit 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
becauseof 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 ofsenior 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 presidentwith 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.