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Letters to the editor

Jim Dorsey

For a moment I thought I was back in the ’60s! No, it wasn’t the medication or the music. It was Butch Mazzuca’s column on health care June 23. As I read his arguments on the difficulties of creating universal health care, my first thought was that these were precisely the same things Republicans were saying when I was in high school. That was, I confess, 40 years ago.You want universal health care? Look at Norway or Sweden and all the taxes they pay? You want to pay those? Look at how “poor” the system is in Canada! Is that the kind of health care you want? Long lines? No choice of doctor. Etc. Etc. Yet decade after decade these countries’ citizens vote with their feet, ballot and pocketbook to support these systems and have done so for three generations now. What do they know that we don’t? Maybe because they’re foreigners they don’t know how bad their systems are?On the other hand, the richest democracy in the world can’t find a way to provide health insurance and or services for 40 percent of its population, while the other 60 percent are cost gouged unmercifully. And, of course, a 20-year-old couple can get health insurance at a reasonable cost, depending on how you define reasonable. Those who are least likely to need insurance are the most desirable customers for insurance, as the former insurance executive Mr. Mazzuca well knows. If you want to use dollar examples, show us the rates for a divorced mother of three teens in her 40s. Or, maybe a divorced man at 50 with a couple of kids. Or maybe any baby boomer at all!The only reason any substantial number of Americans under 62 has health insurance at all is because of archaic recruiting and retention practices of American corporations from back in the days before outsourcing and greater mechanization. Smaller businesses followed to compete in the skilled labor market. Those companies are becoming markedly fewer. And the number of Americans without health insurance, and concomitantly, often without medical care, is increasing proportionately.This isn’t a problem anymore. It’s a crisis that’s here now (unlike the Social Security crisis 20-40 years from now), along with all those aging baby boomers, the earliest of which are only four years from Medicaid. The latest of which need to worry about a 15-year or so gap in medical care.Mr. Mazzuca did a good job listing difficulties. The exact same litany offered by Republicans for years, no, decades. They don’t represent the problem, merely the symptoms of the problem.Americans pay 30 percent to 60 percent more for their medications than do Canadians, for example. Why? Because the Canadian government bargains on behalf of its citizens, while American governmental groups are forbidden to by law. We (Americans) subsidize all the research, as well as the marginal profitability that gives the pharmaceutical industry a net profit margin roughly three times the average Fortune 500 company. Other countries laugh and enjoy the benefits.Why? Because the pharmaceutical industry provides 17 percent of all campaign contributions to Congress and the Senate. That’s almost one dollar in five. Somehow, I don’t think much of it goes to people like Hilary Clinton. While I don’t have the figures for the health-care industry, there’s no reason to think they are any less astute than the pharmaceutical industry. And you know the insurance industry PACs are anything but dumb.Mr. Mazzuca’s exhortations toward individual responsibility sound wonderfully Republican, and I confess lead me to suspect that not only is he well covered personally but he has had little personal experience with major health-care situations. A badly broken leg alone can cost 50 grand. Now you want to talk cost of real catastrophic illness?Yes, it’s impossible to cover everybody to everybody’s satisfaction. Is that some sort of reason not to try? Besides, we’re not even seriously trying to cover anybody.The pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want regulation. Neither does health care, unless the regulation limits their contingent liabilities and boosts profits, of course. How many politicians have you seen in your life bite the hand that feeds them?One can list difficulties and failures to boo-hoo just about anything. In this case, it’s designed to disguise the fact that in the same discussion for 40 years, the Republicans have used the same arguments to do absolutely nothing!We are, and have been for three decades, the only advanced industrialized democracy in the world that does not provide substantial health-care assistance to its citizens. However imperfectly, dozens of other countries have managed to overcome every difficulty offered ad nauseum over the decades by Republicans. Meanwhile, I am unable to recall a single “health-care” initiative of the Republican Party dedicated to the citizenry. Unless, of course, it was an “indirect” benefit by subsidizing an insurance company or the pharmaceutical and insurance industries so the consumer would get a “better deal” (which strangely never materializes). The problem with health reform isn’t a practical business problem. To use a hackneyed phrase, “If we can go to the moon,” etc.Its simply politics, and corrupt politics at that. The health-care industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry (except for a few hurricanes), like things just the way they are, thank you very much. And, they’re willing to pay to keep it that way.Until a sufficient number of baby boomers get irate and pay attention to the issue (three hours in a hospital and a $15,000 bill concentrates the mind wonderfully), the same litany of excuses as offered by Mr. Mazzuca will be offered. And nothing will be done.The Republicans will never do anything. They are simply owned. The Democrats are likely too inept and fractionated to do anything. The only hope is a really competent president who gets voted in specifically on the issue. (Any odds on that?)Or! Maybe the children of the ’60s aren’t quite finished rebelling yet. Jim DorseyAvonOut of control To the owner of the two German shepherds involved in an incident at Berry Lake on June 18:Obviously you feel that rules don’t apply to you. Our Lab was leashed and enjoying the beach on the afternoon of June 18. Your two dogs were loose and jumping around in the lake even though signs prohibited them from doing so. We were minding our own business on the other side of the lake when your two “pets” came streaking around the lake, out of control, and began attacking our dog. Each of your 100-plus-pound “puppies” (your words, not mine) were in a frenzy: attacking, snarling and biting. Our dog had several bleeding cuts and required examination by the vet several days later. Had I not intervened and kicked your two dogs away, the consequences could have been far more serious. Your explanation that “they’ve never done this before” as you took your time packing them into your Excursion was both lame and ridiculous.The posted signs say that all dogs must be leashed or under complete voice control. I guess we have different definitions of what “under control” means. So here’s a suggestion: Keep your dogs at home, tied up or fenced where they can’t do any harm to other pets or people. Nobody enjoying the parks should have to deal with this. I don’t know who’s more at fault here – these “puppies” or their irresponsible owner.Mark BrombergEdwardsVail, Colorado


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