There is another Traverse City woman with my name who occasionally writes letters to the editor. Id like to clarify my own viewpoint on health care.
Because of my many years of legal work with people who are suffering and sometimes dying in misery due to growing problems with the health care industry, I do favor responsible reform.
Just like you, I am also personally sensitive to these issues along with millions of others. A few examples from my own experience:
My mother was diagnosed with cancer in the 1980s and was without the benefit of hospice because she was uninsured at the time; this period was perhaps the biggest nightmare of my life. It was a grueling experience caring for her at home without help while raising two young daughters on my own. We managed, of course, because we had to and we shared her passing together with my disabled sister in a peaceful and loving way, but only after a great deal of incredible pain, hardship and financial sacrifice that by comparison to those with insurance would be totally unbelievable;
My father, 85-years-old, is nicely insured under Medicare (a government program) and insurance supplements he purchased. He receives tremendously generous hospice care when he needs it and continues to enjoy life. His 95-year-old sister receives similar benefits. Its a very nice situation as they share a family home together and are able to get by with visiting nurses at a great savings to their insurers over institutional care;
My brother was a college student when he encountered his first significant health problems related to an injury which lingered past the time he was covered under our parents insurance. The interruption in the continuity of his care led to much larger health problems that were difficult to overcome; he died in his ‘30s.
I believe Americans have good hearts and souls; we will find our way through the current difficult issues and times ... and we will be better off for having taken the time to work it all out together.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has developed an online tool to help explain the differences between competing pieces of proposed legislation related to health care reform.
The link to this resource is: http://www.kff.org/healthreform/sidebyside.cfm
A link to global statistical health information shows that U.S. citizens are paying more than twice as much for health care: http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/2009/en/index.html
Our future is ours to create as a people. Lets do it.
Sharon Neumann TC
Fear & single-payer plan
The reason Obama can not answer satisfactorily the question so aggressively put to him about the high cost of his medical insurance plan is that he abandoned the the plan most certainly guaranteed to save the most money; the single payer health program which greatly lowers administrative costs and is not burdened with making the high profits of the private insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Not enough attention is paid to the fact that versions of the English and Canadian systems, about which so may scare stories are being circulated, are already operating effectively in this country in the Veterans Administration and Medicare.
The often expressed fear of the unknown when it comes to medical reform must apply to all the current confusion in Congress not to the single payer idea, which we already have in this country.
The real scare is in the economics of the private system. A recent Harpers Index tells us that since 2002 the premiums paid to large U.S. health insurance companies have gone up 85 percent; profits in the top 10 companies went up 438%. and that seven out of 10 Americans bankrupted by medical bills had private health insurance.
R.E. Reinert Northport
Stop the budget cuts
I urge the Michigan Legislature to stop the cuts and increase revenue.
I am disturbed by the breadth and depth of cuts to essential State services that are being made in response to our financial deficit. Devastating cuts to early childhood education, physical and mental health services to low income citizens, K -12 and higher education, child protection and support programs, environmental protection and more will prove to haunt us for generations to come. Among other effects, these cuts represent an unraveling of Michigans investment in early childhood development and education.
No one wants to pay more taxes, but we must strategically increase revenue. Increased taxes on beer and cigarettes would raise significant funds with only a small cost to the users of these non-essential substances. (Ill admit to enjoying beer, but would be happy to pay a few cents more.) New taxes on soft drinks are also a great idea.
Rep. Gary McDowell and other members of the legislature have identified many tax loopholes which benefit few but cost all of us. Closing these loopholes would go a long way to reducing the revenue gap and restore these essential services.
We must increase revenues and not balance the budget on the back of our most vulnerable neighbors.
Martha Lancaster Petoskey
A clean energy economy
In the next month, the U.S. Senate will take on the important task of deciding between a cleaner, brighter future for Michigan or the dirty energy policies of the past. I am writing to urge Michigan residents to contact senators Stabenow and Levin to support comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation this year that will create jobs and reduce the harmful pollution that threatens the natural resources of the great lakes, and our tourism and agriculture economies.
Passage of clean energy and climate legislation is one of the most important things we can do to revitalize our economy and help solve the climate crisis. This legislation will drive investment in clean energy technologies by creating good-paying jobs. These are homegrown, Michigan jobs for Michigan workers, jobs that use the skills of todays labor force and that cannot be outsourced.
We would be wise to reduce our dependence on foreign oil that threatens our national security. By transitioning to a clean energy economy, we can stop sending billions of dollars to unstable, hostile regimes for their oil and start pumping that money back into our own economy. Passing climate legislation will allow us to invest in domestic energy sources, like wind, solar and geothermal -- reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring we leave behind a healthy, prosperous planet for future generations.
Brenda Archambo Cheboygan
Support single-payer plan
Apparent timidity in both the White House and Congress keeps a single payer health plan off the table. And many legislators receive handsome contributions from the private health industry, the cause of our expensive, under-performing health system.
A simple, single payer system, such as that called for in HR 676 would lead to major cost reductions, full coverage, and longer, more productive lives for Americans. Polls have found that a majority of Americans favor it; dont be fooled by the current angry voices motivated by fear, lies and some corruption.
Its time for Washington to develop a straightforward single payer national system.
Lou Ann McKimmy via email