Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

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

elsewhere.Sound familiar?

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.

Ed Moses

Baker City

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.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

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.

Clair Button

Baker City

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 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.

Marilyn Dudek

Baker City