Op-Ed

I-1600 petitioners ready to talk about about how well, or not, health care works

Whole Washington in Whatcom County is gathering signatures for I-1600. This is a volunteer-only signature gathering effort and gatherers meet every Tuesday to collect petitions, enthuse each other, report best places, etc. Paula Smith from Blaine is our informal chair. The initiative has no corporate sponsors, only endorsements.

Washington is an export state, most products must be priced to cover health care insurance, which now delivers only about 66 percent actual care for every dollar invested. Value-added healthcare costs makes it difficult to compete with countries that cover a larger portion of citizens for much less cost and better outcomes. This state can and must do better

Economist Dr. Gerald Friedman, who was paid to help design the I-1600 economic plan, helped write Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan when Romney was governor. I believe the insurance industry and stock holders were not interested in a change because of the danger of success and the resulting loss of the profits made through our current care system.

I have belonged to United for National Health Care since 2004 when I got my first retirement check from Olympia and realized the huge percent of my check that went to the Public Employee Benefit Board for my medical and dental insurance. I have been president and my husband is treasure. This group has been an education forum concerned with the cost, lack of population covered, and consequences of the for-profit industry that, I believe, has held us captive since 1973. After all these years trying to reach out and educate, finally some serious public discussion is taking place.

United for National Healthcare used to march in the Sea to Sea Parade, but the coordinators thought it was a political cause. Certainly all citizens bear the economic consequences of budgets, at home and the County and State. United for National Health Care sees health care costs as a bipartisan issue, a moral issue, and even a religious faith issue.

I-1600 makes economic sense. It has information for the benefits to businesses, large and small, families and individuals. The success of Whole Washington Trust is about citizen will to end our current system of for-profit health care: the will to care for all citizens while saving billions of dollars.

Study your pay stub and figure what you pay for insurance, add co-pays, out of pocket expenses and pharmaceuticals to the amount your employer pulls from your salary, should you have employer-provided insurance. Would you like to reduce that total of 15 percent to 22 percent to about 9 percent? The plan will cover vision, hearing, dental, mental health, and some alternative care physicians. It will include physical therapy, acupuncture and other curative and therapeutic practices.

Let’s at least have a discussion about how well, or not, the current system works for the state’s economy, our own pocketbooks and the health of our workers and families.

Donna Starr of United for National Health Care is gathering signatures for I-1600, “Universal Healthcare Coverage and Funding through Payroll, Income, and Capital Gains Taxes,” on the November ballot.

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