Letters to the Editor for Aug. 1, 2011

By Baker City Herald Readers August 01, 2011 09:29 pm

Bringing truth to health care debate
To the editor:
Thank you for printing Mark Weisbrot’s op-ed (July 22) outlining the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and the potentially much greater benefits from Medicare for all. There is so much distortion and outright falsehood being drummed up by the right wing, that it’s a relief to see the bright light of truth shine on important issues that affect us so deeply. Weisbrot’s Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) is an excellent resource for factual information.
It was particularly helpful to read that Medicare spending per person increased 400 percent from 1969 to 2009, adjusted for inflation, while private insurance premiums rose 700 percent. This is a clear demonstration that the federal government is much more efficient in controlling costs than are private, for-profit corporations when it comes to health insurance.  And non-profit Medicare has much lower overhead — in the range of 3 percent to 4 percent, well below the 10 percent to 30 percent for private insurance companies that are busy lining their own pockets. 
Excessive for-profit insurance expense and anti-competitive practices by the pharmaceutical industry currently cause our per-capita health care costs to be about double those of other developed nations. And we have millions of Americans with no insurance, and we have worse health outcomes, to boot.
We’re lagging behind the rest of the world with our expensive, antiquated, employer-provided private health insurance as a “fringe benefit.” Doing so discourages businesses from new hiring, and motivates them to automate jobs or ship them overseas to minimize health insurance costs.   It’s clear that improved, universal Medicare for all, as suggested by Mr. Weisbrot, would help us catch up. It would do wonders for our economy and our well being.  We could drastically cut medical insurance expense, and convert the current dysfunctional hodgepodge into a much more efficient system in which everyone participates and everyone wins.
Let’s move past deceptive, ideological road blocks and work together to truly meet the needs of the American people.
Marshall McComb
Baker City