Email Letters: July 5, 2017
Market system would exclude some citizens from health care
Wednesday was a Red Letter day on the opinion page of the Sentinel. We have three local “experts” explaining how the big, bad government is at the root of, apparently, a non-problem.
First, I think most people in the medical care business will tell you that Medicaid and Medicare prices are too low. Why do certain doctors want to limit the number of people on these programs in their practices?
Second, do we or don’t we want to ensure that everybody is covered by medical insurance? If not, some people will die or suffer greatly for lack of help. There is always the ER, you say? That is the most expensive way to end up with everybody else paying the bill anyway and the coverage is minimal and generally not detailed enough to really solve the problem.
Third, the market system is working and it leaves out some people getting service because of cost. In addition who has the most and best medical knowledge? Are you ready to bargain with them? The doctors of course and their charges, if appropriate, are too much for some. As a culture do we shrug and say, too bad? Are all those who can’t afford insurance lazy and shiftless and their conditions are of their own making? Serves them right?
Fourth, the ACA was assembled based on certain assumptions. They didn’t work out because too many younger persons didn’t want to participate in the risk pool. Some seem to want to make it a simple case of Democratic/government incompetency. Now we are about to find out how the objectives of the ACA can all be accomplished completely, better and cheaper. They said it could be done.
So, do we care if the country with the best medical competency and equipment can make it available for the entire citizenry or are we still going to rely on ”you can have as much of anything that you can afford?” That’s the way the market system works. Is it a problem that it leaves some citizens behind? If it is, what private institution will take the lead to include everybody?
ACA’s problems can all be attributed to Republican sabotage
Wednesday’s three “health care” letters all raise pertinent points, but entirely ignore the reality of the “free market” system that immediately preceded (and arguably necessitated) enactment of the Affordable Care Act.
Phyllis Hunsinger maintains that “Health care is best solved by the free market” and blames Medicare for upward pressure on health care costs. However, in contrast to other developed countries, the primary cause of the “imbalance between value and cost” in our health care “system” is the “free market” profit motive that drives the business decisions of health care providers – including doctors, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to the ACA, even “conservative” experts predicted that rapidly rising health care costs would render “the best health care in the world” unaffordable to all but the wealthy and/or adequately insured.
Marcia Neal is only half-right in arguing that “We need to repeal Obamacare and fix health care system” – because repealing the ACA does nothing to “fix” anything. Neal forgets that the ACA was subject to 14 months of public hearings in the Senate alone and incorporated over 100 Republican amendments. However, having vowed to obstruct President Obama at every turn, cynical Republicans all voted against the bill that embraced their own amendments. Since then, the ACA’s ongoing (but readily solvable) problems can all be attributed to Republican sabotage and their deliberate perpetuation of uncertainty for health insurers.
Finally, while Michael Higgins is correct that “No piece of legislation will solve health care quickly,” he apparently doesn’t realize that the ACA has actually reduced deficits below what they would have been under the pre-ACA “baseline” to which he would revert. The ACA reduced projected and actual deficits by generating Medicare savings, most of which was reinvested in extending access to health care to millions of uninsureds. The Republican “plans” cut/cap Medicaid to fund more tax cuts for the already wealthy – when increasing those taxes would enable comprehensive “fixes” to Obamacare.
Eliminating sugar would change everyone’s health for the better
In Tuesday’s Health & Wellness section, an article concerning the increase in obesity in most of the world concluded, there is “no singly simple solution for the problem of overweight and obesity.”
Sugar, and other hyperglycemic foods, is the main reason for this epidemic! The sugar industry is acting just as the tobacco industry did 50 years ago when it claimed cigarettes did not kill people. Sugar is highly addictive and this is why it is put in almost all manufactured food to increase consumption. A common sight is a family of very large parents with large children each consuming a 32-ounce pop. At every special occasion there is sugar in some form. It is everywhere.
Sugar affects almost every system in the body in a negative way. If sugar was eliminated or minimized, everyone’s health would change for the better. I challenge people with health problems and/or being overweight to eliminate sugar and you will see amazing changes for the better.
Why would we delay the implementation of federal methane protections?
In a previous letter, I celebrated Gwen Lachelt’s role in Sen. John McCain’s deciding vote to keep the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Rule in place. Last month both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the BLM suspended methane rules vital to clean air protection. It seems that Cory Gardner, Scott Tipton and others who voted for Methane Rule repeal will not accept their defeat. According to Keating Research, the oil and gas industry favors the stricter Colorado rules that require them to find and fix methane leaks. These rules improve efficiency and worker safety while decreasing methane pollution, and the costs are minimal if not outweighed by the increased revenue from captured methane.
Why, then, would we delay the implementation of federal methane protections that have yet again passed Congress? Natural gas leaks are primarily methane, but also include volatile organic compounds (carcinogen benzene is one of them). VOCs react with nitrogen oxides and sunlight to form ozone. Our children and elderly are most susceptible to ozone-induced breathing difficulties, and summer heat exacerbates them. Researchers at CSU estimate over 30,000 summertime asthma attacks in Colorado children due to oil and gas operations. Benzene likely plays a role in the increased childhood cancer rates in drilling dense areas in rural Colorado (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28199334)
Furthermore, the EPA acknowledged in their announcement that “the environmental health or safety risk addressed by this action may have a disproportionate effect on children.” Even Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton would oppose risk to our children…wouldn’t they?
LAURI COSTELLO MD
Do our prayers echo those made in historical proclamation?
During the war for our independence, Congress made the following proclamation. May we each consider whether our prayers echo theirs or whether we need to return to the spirit of our founding fathers.
WHEREAS, in just Punishment of our manifold Transgressions, it hath pleased the Supreme Disposer of all Events to visit these United States with a calamitous War, through which his Divine Providence hath hitherto in a wonderful Manner conducted us, so that we might acknowledge that the Race is not to the Swift, nor the Battle to the Strong: AND WHEREAS, notwithstanding the Chastisements received and Benefits bestowed, too few have been sufficiently awakened to a Sense of their Guilt, or warmed with Gratitude, or taught to amend their Lives and turn from their Sins, that so he might turn from his Wrath: AND WHEREAS, from a Consciousness of what we have merited at his Hands, and an Apprehension that the Malevolence of our disappointed Enemies, like the Incredulity of Pharaoh, may be used as the Scourge of Omnipotence to vindicate his slighted Majesty, there is Reason to fear that he may permit much of our Land to become the Prey of the Spoiler, our Borders to be ravaged, and our Habitations destroyed:
RESOLVED, THAT it be recommended to the several States to appoint the First Thursday in May next to be a Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer to Almighty God, that he will be pleased to avert those impending Calamities which we have but too well deserved: That he will grant us his Grace to repent of our Sins, and amend our Lives according to his Holy Word….
Congressional Fast Day Proclamation, March 20, 1779, Broadside Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (109)