Printed letters, July 14, 2010

Group hasn’t endorsed

single-payer health system

The Mesa County Medical Society and the Colorado Medical Society would like to set the record straight regarding our position on health care reform and our discussions with the two candidates in the Republican primary for House District 54.

The Colorado Medical Society has spent more than five years bringing together doctors from all over the state, including Grand Junction and the Western Slope, to arrive at a broadly supported picture of a reformed health care system. Nowhere in this policy do we list our support of a single-payer system. In fact, our House of Delegates specifically voted against supporting a single-payer system in 2008. In addition, nowhere do we express unreserved support of the recent health reform bill passed in Washington. While we support elements of the bill, there are others that concern us, as well as omissions that we would like to see fixed.

We did talk to both Ray Scott and Bob Hislop about our support for the requirement that individuals have insurance. Only by having everyone in the insurance pool can we eliminate discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and help bring down premium costs for all Americans. That is not a single-payer issue or a policy prescription unique to the federal health reform bill. It reflects the principles of CMS’ Physicians Congress for Health Care Reform, and was a core recommendation of Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform and the proposal put forth to that Commission by Club 20.

We regret that neither candidate agrees with us on this issue. However, we did find other important areas of agreement with Mr. Hislop and are proud to endorse him.

MIKE PRAMENKO, M.D.

President-Elect

Colorado Medical Society

Primary Care Partners

Grand Junction

Oil and gas development affects our quality of life

Fram Operating has proposed a plan to develop the oil and gas reserves of the Whitewater Unit, a BLM minerals lease tract running along the western base of the Grand Mesa. The plan calls for constructing 492 wells on 55 well pads on about 90,000 acres in Mesa and Delta counties. About 15 miles of new roads, upgrades to 48 miles of two-track trails, 90 miles of pipeline and a compressor station are proposed.

This plan deserves careful consideration.

Fram proposes contracting with Grand Junction to supply water for well drilling. This water cannot be recycled. Clean water would thus be permanently removed from Grand Junction’s water supply.

Drilling an oil or gas well requires 1 million to 7 million gallons of water. In comparison, average daily indoor water use for a family of four is 280 gallons, or about 100,000 gallons annually. Fram is thus proposing, at minimum, to use a 10-year supply of water for 500 families.

Normal oil and gas development causes some environmental damage. Soil erosion and deterioration of water and air quality are likely, and native plants and animals are at risk. And accidents do happen, such as the tragic incident in the Gulf of Mexico.

Drilling operations produce much dust and unhealthy amounts of ground-level ozone (smog), harmful to both plants and animals. Such dust and smog would likely aggravate the air inversions that occur in the Grand Valley.

The Whitewater Unit encompasses a recreational haven for outdoor activities. These activities could be severely compromised by the noise, dust and odors associated with drilling operations and construction of roads and pipelines during oil and gas development.

Can we afford to jeopardize our water, air and quality of life for what may turn out to be a marginally producing gas field?

MARC GUBKIN

Grand Junction

What happened to the Colorado Courtesy Patrol?

I cannot believe that a stretch of our highway can go without being patrolled for eight hours, especially an interstate highway.

I remember when I was growing up, I kept hearing about the Colorado State Courtesy Patrol. Its job was to patrol the roads to make sure that they were safe for public travel and to assist those who were in need of help. What has happened to this great agency of the past?

BOB FREEMAN

Grand Junction



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