Printed letters, June 25, 2010

County medical clinic will cost area taxpayers

It was rather surprising to see the reasoning that two of our conservative county commissioners offered regarding the county getting into the health care business.

If the county saves money by establishing its own primary-care clinic, wouldn’t it make sense that the city, state and federal governments would save money also if they established their own clinics? And if a clinic controlled by them saved money, think of the savings for government-owned and operated hospitals. Wait! This is socialized medicine.

Ninety-eight percent of our legislators and citizens did not want to go down this socialized-medicine road with health care reform. The public option wouldn’t even have involved the government owning or operating health care facilities.

It matters only slightly that the county will contract with a private entity to manage the clinic. Our well-known HMO has contracted in the past to provide health care benefits for governmental employees. One big difference is that the HMO is a non-profit entity and thus has no inherent self-interest to skimp or not provide care. The other difference is that the HMO utilizes existing providers to perform care and that these providers participate endlessly to make our total community care more appropriate, coordinated (most notably through primary care) and cost-effective.

Needless to say, this requires partnering, constant communication, democratic decision-making and some sacrifices from all parties.

Our non-health-care credentialed county commissioners seem to feel that they have a better way. The truth is that they are only siphoning off some of the easiest health care and thus dumping the more problematic care on to the private sector. While the lost income for this private sector may be small, it may show up later in lower sales tax revenue from providers and their staffs spending less on personal purchases in the community.

While this dollar amount may be small, one has to wonder about the future health condition impacts to county employees and the larger financial consequences to direct-pay and HMO taxpayers from the county operating its independent, non-coordinated system.


Teaching climate change will show its strengths

Richard Udd’s contention that “climate change is (merely) a theory, not a fact” flies in the face of myriad observations and accumulated evidence. And his “tens of thousands of scientists” who doubt that “mankind is having any significant impact on climate” melt away — like the disappearing Arctic ice — on close examination.

A survey by the University of Illinois of 3,146 individuals showed that 97 percent of actively publishing scientists (as opposed to non-publishing scientists) agree that human activity is a significant contributing factor to global climate change.

Mr. Udd is correct that China and India must markedly reduce their CO2 emissions if there is to be worldwide mitigation of harmful effects. But the United States should not wait for their joining in the international effort. With our 20 percent contribution to the global overload, we have an obligation to scale back our dumping rate and be the leader, not a follower.

As for advising students to “find means to accommodate it (i.e., global warming) and not futilely attempt to stabilize climate,” that is the counsel of despair. Tell that to the Inuit in northern Alaska who see their coastlines eroding because of the warming Arctic, to the polar bears whose domain is steadily shrinking, to blackcap birds that have changed their wintering grounds to warming Britain from too-hot Spain and Portugal, and many other documented cases of humans, wildlife and plants having to adapt to their rapidly warming environments.

Finally, as an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal opined, “fixing global warming won’t be a drain on the economy. It will unleash one of the greatest floods of new wealth in history. Entrepreneurs and inventors will find the capital they need to solve global warming — and a lot of people will make a killing.”


Grand Junction


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