Printed Letters: April 24, 2014

Obamacare will take down fragile economy
Until last October, my family had affordable health insurance with decent coverage. We are a family of four, and we live a healthy lifestyle. We count ourselves blessed to have no serious illnesses. Aside from annual well visits and the rare event of a broken bone or a few stitches, we don’t have too many doctors’ visits.

Today, our Obamacare health insurance costs $1,100 per month: $250 more per month for the premium and deductibles that are twice as high with higher copays.

The entire process of selecting coverage was a disaster, and for all the hair-pulling, tear-shedding misery of “sucking it up” for the common good, it just keeps getting worse. Under the un-Affordable Care Act, our health insurance premiums alone cost more than our housing. My husband owns a small business, and I pick up part-time work when I can. We fall just under the threshold for subsidies.

I attended the health care reform update sponsored by the League of Women Voters April 14. Dr. Michael Pramenko started by stating he would be neutral. While he had a couple of neutral moments, his talk definitely leaned left, like the lady in front of me “leaning” toward her neighbor to say: “They just want to see Obama fail.”

I expected this bias. Most people in that room were over 65 and on Medicare. We are not sharing the same experience.

To the people in that room who scoffed at all the antics of those awful conservatives, I hope they continue to laugh when the weight of this huge tax bill helps to take down an already fragile economy. Plenty of families like mine have $3,000 per year less to pour into the economy.

A policy is only socially just if its implementation doesn’t hurt other people.

DEANNE ADAMSON
Grand Junction


GOP originally put forth plan similar to Affordable Care Act

I am amazed at the ongoing negative response to “Obamacare” from right-wing conservatives. In actuality, President Obama’s health care plan was originally the Republicans’ idea back in the 1990s; thus, their inability to come up with something different or better than “Obamacare.” It was all their idea in the first place. In fact, the plan was so good that Mitt Romney adopted it for the state of Massachusetts when he was governor, and it has been a huge success there.

The national mandate, which is so abhorrent to conservatives, was originally proposed by them as a free-market ploy to guarantee coverage for all Americans in lieu of another entitlement program like Medicare … God forbid.  One would think that this history of health care for all would have been a bipartisan effort, wouldn’t one?

However, when Obama favored it, the Republicans had no choice but to reject it. After all, their purpose in all of this gridlock and partisan politics is to see Obama fail.

 It’s interesting to read Paul Krugman’s article, “Health Care Nightmares.” Contrary to the title, he talks about the successes of “Obamacare” and the lies that accompany the horror stories about Obama’s health care plan  What is abhorrent is that some states have refused to expand Medicaid, and, as a result, people are dying.

When will the hypocrisy and the blatant disregard for bettering the lives of average Americans stop?

 For the truth check boston.com, “Health Insurance Mandate began as a Republican Idea” and nytimes.com, Paul Krugman.  Interesting reading for those who care.

HOLLY VON HELMS
Montrose


City Council must challenge ACLU’s heavy-handed tactics

As a long-time resident of western Colorado and a past holder of public office, I am continually amazed that the response to a threatened lawsuit by the ACLU has brought more than one community or commission to its knees. “Do as we say, or face a costly lawsuit.” How is this right?

Just the mention of its name sends us running. Are not the taxpayers of this country entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Why must we continually be controlled by groups who put perceived entitlements of others before the rights of its citizens?

I, for one, would like to see the ACLU’s practices challenged. It has cost this country millions of dollars in wasted opportunities and resources.

I support making a stand. Let’s send the bullies in suits packing.

SAM SKRAMSTAD
Grand Junction


Lessons on water conservation learned in ‘50s still apply to all

As a child growing up in Vernal, Utah, during the early 1950s, I learned the value of our most important natural resource, water. My father worked long and hard for the approval of the Echo Park Dam to help conserve the water within the upper Colorado River basin. Ultimately, Echo Park was replaced by the Glen Canyon Dam.

I followed with great interest the wonderful articles by Gary Harmon, which outlined many of the same problems that still face this area with the amount of our water that is available. Many legal documents outline how and where this precious resource is to be allocated. I was dismayed to read that some feel that conservation should take a back seat to increased storage capacity.

With the Front Range wanting more of the Colorado River water, and the decades-old accords allocating water to the other six Colorado River basin states, plus the treaties with Mexico, it is incumbent on everyone to conserve every drop of water we can.

The lessons of the ‘50s are still the lessons of today.

MARY KAY WRAY
Fruita


COMMENTS

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Deanne Adamson’s “Obamacare will take down fragile economy” and Holly Van Helms’ “GOP originally put forth plan similar to Affordable Care Act” (“ACA”) aptly illustrate the gradually improving tenor of the on-going debate over the efficacy of “ObamaCare”.

Thus, first, the fragility of our economy is the direct result of Republican obstructionism
—cynically intended to gain partisan political advantage in the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Second, Adamson provides inadequate detail to make an “apples to apples” comparison of her previous family coverage to her ACA-compliant policy.

The good news is that she found “affordable” (albeit more expensive) coverage and her family has not yet experienced any “serious illnesses” – which might have implicated annual/lifetime coverage limits in her previous policy, and/or induced that insurer to investigate for “pre-existing conditions” and cancel the coverage altogether.

Likewise, higher deductibles matter most when serious illness or injury strikes, and higher co-pays may be offset by the ACA’s free preventative care provisions.

Third, the proposition that “a policy is only socially just if its implementation doesn’t hurt other people” is wishful thinking.

Adamson forgets that the ACA was prompted by our “broken” health care system.  Beginning in 1989 – as Van Helms correctly points out – even “conservatives” were recognizing that not fixing it was a “socially unjust” policy choice, because that profit-driven system “hurt” too many “other people”.

As of April 15, 2014, 8 million had signed-up through either federal or state exchanges; 8.2 million may have obtained qualifying coverage through insurance brokers or directly from insurance companies; 5-7 million obtained coverage through Medicaid and/or CHIP expansion; and 1.6 to 3 million “under 26ers” remain covered on parents’ policies.

Thus, from 14.4 to 23.5 million Americans are now benefiting from the ACA – while 5+ million are waiting for recalcitrant “red states” to rediscover social justice.

Bill, the Sentinel requires 300 words or less in a letter.  I need a whole lot more words to detail my experience thus far.  Feel free to contact me if you want more information.  I am only telling one story - my story - but I have a feeling I’m not alone.  The lecture that I went to, while informative, glossed over rising future costs of this plan but offered no way to address them.  Dr. Pramenko also stated that we have done nothing yet to address the costs of health care. I thought that was the point of this whole mess.
I know my family is paying a lot more for less coverage to cover all those people who could not get coverage prior to this law.  It’s a big tax so why not just call it that and stop pretending like it’s some great boost to our “broken” health care system?  Costs of health care have not come down and have actually gone up.  Of that I am sure.  I tried to shop for a plan similar to what we had but “settled” on the one we currently have because we simply could not spend the kind of money a “gold” plan or the higher priced “silver” plans offer. It would definitely stress an already stressed family budget.  My husband did not like the bronze plans because the deductibles were way too high.  If it had been up to me, we would have gone uninsured but my husband insisted that we have coverage because of the boys. We are not spendthrifts and I am good at constantly trying to reduce costs or bargain hunt every time I shop for groceries, clothing for the boys, insurance, services, etc.  Nothing ever comes down in price but for my insurance to increase 29% - that’s tough and will be reflected in our tighter budget. We can live lean and mean.  Neither me or my husband come from money but worked our asses off for everything we have. My husband’s business of 12 years is also facing financial difficulties in this economy.  His boys barely see him as it is and now with longer hours, cutbacks, etc we are lucky if we see him a couple of days a month.  Do you get that? Can you grasp the concept of people all across the country tightening their belts so we can pay more taxes?  Health care costs are still high!!!  Prescriptions cost more, lab stuff costs more, doctor’s visits cost more.  So more people have access to insurance but can they afford it? 
Of those 8 million that signed up, how many have actually paid?
And, BTW, I am an unaffiliated voter.
How old are you Bill?  Do you have kids in high school with looming college costs ahead?  I’m curious to know where you are coming from when you think health insurance should cost more than housing and utilities combined.

BTW, How do you determine that this is “affordable”?  What does that mean? You know nothing of my income, expenses, etc. Do you just predetermine that we all should spend every available dollar towards supporting socialist programs?

Deanne – thanks for your cogent response to my comments.  I usually get lots more vitriol whenever I try to defend and/or explain “ObamaCare” in 300 words or less!

I do not question your experience or the insurance premiums you quoted.  I know that families with looming expenses and unpredictable income near (or over) the top of the subsidy eligibility scale can be the most adversely affected by the Affordable Care Act.

However, my point was – and remains – that the ACA is not entirely to blame for the issues raised by your own personal story.

Remember, before the ACA was enacted, overall health care expenditures in the U.S. were double per capita relative to other industrialized countries – and with inferior medical outcomes (except for the very wealthy, who could afford the very best care).

The fundamental reason for that disparity is that only the U.S. still clings to a profit-driven health care “system”, when our “peers” treat health care as a “public good” and provide access to their not-for-profit systems for virtually all their citizens.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., annual increases in health care costs threatened to bankrupt Medicare and cause Medicaid expenses to consume most of our discretionary national budget, and – as a result – health insurance premiums were rising at double-digit rates.

Of course, by increasing access to our health care system, the ACA increases demand for medical services – driving up costs (albeit at a lower rate than before the ACA).

I put the word “affordable” in quotes because I appreciate that actual affordability is a function of a family’s overall circumstances.  However, that word was first used by the
“conservative” Heritage Foundation in their 1989 study entitled “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans” – which was the genesis of the “individual mandate” (to spread the risk across the largest possible “pool” of insureds) and thus of the ACA.

However, the same Republican party that invented the ACA and mindlessly cut taxes on the wealthy (first tripling and then doubling our National Debt) is now the “Teapugnican” party that has voted 51+ times to repeal it, refuses to invest in job-creating infrastructure projects (which might help your husband’s business thrive), and is actively endeavoring to sabotage both government and the economy for partisan political gain—while refusing to raise taxes on “the 1%”, much less to participate in serious discussions to improve the ACA and thereby bring their own idea to fruition.

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