Friday, August 14, 2009
Truth is important in healthcare debate
To the Editor:
I was concerned to read the letter in the July 31 Mosquito which questioned the claim that there are presently about 47 million uninsured persons in the United States. The writer’s research had convinced her that there are merely 8.5 million uninsured. However the Census Bureau’s annual Current Population Survey for 2007 places the uninsured number at 45.7 million.
The July issue of "Medical Economics," using Families USA as its source, quotes $116 billion spent by American taxpayers on health care for the uninsured in 2008. Because of uncompensated care, the cost to the average insured family is quoted at $1,017 annually, and the cost to the average insured individual at $368 per year.
These figures don’t begin to address the estimated 25 million underinsured Americans. The American Cancer Society’s Action Network has figures which show that 23 percent of (inadequately) insured cancer patients have delayed care in the past year and 12 percent have thousands of dollars in medical debt.
The letter writer also referenced the House of Representatives’ “healthcare for all Americans” bill, taking from the approximately 1,018-page document a reference on “page 16” to mean that individual private health insurance plans would be made illegal. Page 16 actually states that after this bill’s adoption, grandfathered health insurance coverage can be exempted from requirements of this Act under certain conditions. The bill includes a new government-run insurance plan which would compete with private plans and could be chosen by persons who are unsatisfied with their private plans or unable to afford private insurance. However, anyone who finds their private plan to have adequate coverage and to be affordable would most likely see no reason to change.
As Americans learn more about healthcare reform, they are also likely to hear conflicting information and terrifying scenarios from those who would like to prevent this reform. Fortunately, it is possible to find accurate information. To read the actual bill, go to http://www.opencongress.org, and find bill HR3200. You will not find anything about rationing, euthanasia or taxes on middle-class wage earners. But there is plenty to talk about, and that’s what we should be doing – as long as we speak the truth.
Three observations on healthcare
To the Editor:
Recent issues of the Mosquito have contained commentary on healthcare issues. This is a useful discussion. I offer three observations:
First, in contrast to claims in the 7/31 Forum, by any metric the quality of care provided by American doctors and nurses is superb. Americans enjoy unparalleled access to advanced treatments, drugs and medical devices. Five-year cancer survival rates in the United States are higher than in any other nation. America also is better at preventative medicine. Almost 90 percent of middle-aged American women have had a mammogram compared to less than 75 percent of Canadian women (NCP A Brief no 649).
Second, America spends more on health care than Canada because we are a wealthier society. Healthcare expenditures raise the quality of life. Expenditures on health care become more attractive once immediate needs have been satisfied. Per capita income in the United States is roughly 20 percent higher than Canada. It should not be surprising that Americans spend more than Canadians on healthcare.
Third, advocates of greater government involvement typically make the claim that government-run healthcare will be higher quality, lower cost and cover more people (Mosquito letter, 7/17/2009). But if this can be done for healthcare, why not other government functions? The simple truth is that there is no reason to believe that government-run healthcare enterprises would function differently than existing government services. More government involvement will make healthcare more bureaucratic, high cost and averse to innovation. The fact is that the same government that takes two years to repair Flint’s Bridge will take as long to schedule your hip replacement. The government that can’t find the money for roadway maintenance won’t find the money for preventative healthcare. And the government that couldn’t decipher the entrails of Bernie Madoff’s scam won’t do a good job at choosing the treatments doctors can offer and protecting your health interests. Why expect otherwise?
James G. Bohn
A great summer at the Gleason
To the Editor:
How many hours does it take to read 165,665 pages? Approximately six weeks and hundreds of students and adults tracking the books they read (and listen to) as part of the Starship Adventure 2009 Summer Reading Program. This year, participation from students was better than ever, in reading and in program attendance. We have many people to thank for this exciting event including the creative and enthusiastic work of librarians Nancy Boutet and Erica Wing, the planning of Marty Seneta, the support of Sandy Kelly (the school librarian) and the Friends of the Gleason Public Library for funding everything from the performers, to refreshments, to prizes and craft supplies.
Our thanks too to Leafy Dale, our local band, Dave Reed, a local hero, for adding to our roster of entertaining events. Our library was decorated with collectibles from Charlie and Lowell Hutchinson, Brendon Smith and Lyn DiBiase. Special thanks to volunteers Mary Boutet, Genna Carmichael, Rose Carmichael, Anagha Chandra, Meg Doucette, Anna Kolstad, Sarah Means, Elisabeth Sorrows, Katherine Sorrows and Phoebe Taffel who helped make craft sessions and parties run smoothly. You can still enjoy summer reading by viewing the photo display online featuring Zippy, our summer reading mascot, and Carlisle families. Just visit the library website www.gleasonlibrary.org.
Thank you for making the library a part of your summer!
Clarification on bill’s wording
To the Editor:
Perhaps Sally J. Naumann’s advocacy of campaigns to deny basic civil rights to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people has blinded her to what State Bill #1728 really provides (Mosquito letter, 7/31/2009). I would like to assure her and Mosquito readers that passage of this bill will not mean that anyone who “criticize[s] anything about a person who self-identifies as transgendered” will risk a fine or a jail sentence. The bill simply provides for the addition of “gender identity or expression” to existing non-discrimination and hate crime law.
The idea that any Massachusetts or U.S. law would provide fines or jail sentences for people who “criticize” other people is absurd. In this country we are allowed to say what we like. What we are not allowed to do is take action that deprives others of their constitutional rights because we disapprove of their race, religion, ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or because they are handicapped.
For more on Bill H1728, please see www.mass.gov/legis, go to “House Bills,” and type H1728 in the box by “House No.”
Adult cats need homes, too
To the Editor:
Two of our area shelters have numerous adult cats that need homes now. They are The Lowell Humane Society, (www.lowellhumanesociety.org) and The Billerica Cat Care Coalition, (www.billericacatcarecoalition.org). During the summer months, adoption rates drop off dramatically, and especially in these economic times these adult cats sit and sit, and wait and wait for that forever home. Most of these cats already come spayed/neutered, and are up to date on their shots. The staff and volunteers at both of these shelters are trained to help families find that companion pet for existing pet households or to find the perfect starter pet(s) to match your family’s lifestyle. So, as the summer rolls on, consider adding that special friend(s). You can view many of the animals needing homes online and in the event that a cat is not in your immediate future, tax-deductible donations are always welcome.
Thanks for Ice Cream Social
To the Editor:
At Carlisle Council on Aging’s summer Ice Cream Social, approximately 50 people enjoyed: the sounds of “Second Wind” (which included Carlisle’s own Ray Taylor, Jon Saphier and Kerry Kissinger along with Roger Winsby, formerly of Carlisle, now of Concord); singing along with Carlisle’s Santo Pullara, Nadine Bishop and Al Cederlund (of Lowell); and ice cream donated by Kimball’s.
We would like to thank all those who helped make this event successful, especially the Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services who sponsored the program represented by Cheryl Hammar and Tony Rivero, director. The ice cream was delicious, the music wonderful and the company the best.
Thanks to everyone who generously gave of their talents, time and that yummy ice cream.
© 2009 The