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8/26/2009 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

The book detailing the life of York native John Whalen, who went on to head the largest air freight forwarding company in the world, will be available at Barnes and Noble by the end of October at the latest.

Fron the Plains . . . To Planes . . . and Other Plain Talk is now available at http:/ Cost is $19.99 for paperback and $29.99 for hardcover. The book will also be available from Amazon and other online sellers by the end of October at the latest.


President Obama said last week that there are a lot of myths about the health care package being put together by Congress. Obama gave Congress a number of guidelines to follow and Congress is writing the bill. It is not Obama’s bill. It is not yet finished.

Obama calls them "myths." I call them lies. The right-wingers are pulling out all stops with their nonsense about "death panels" and "rationing" and "government takeover of medical care" and "Socialism." These are lies, plain and simple because the plans in the pipeline are just tinkering around the edges of the system we now have.

I listened to a radio clip of Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) as he stated that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) would not get the level of care for his brain cancer on a sustained basis in England because of his age.

You’ve all seen the TV ad which shows a female patient in a hospital and a grieving husband beside her with the voice over that tells us $22,750 is the maximum the English system would spend on her.

Prairie Public Radio interviewed a former minister of health for England on August 18, 2009 and he said the two examples listed above are "absolutely not true."

We keep hearing about rationing in Canada. But letter writers from Canada who send letters to the Grand Forks Herald tell us they are well satisfied with their system. One letter writer stated that if there is a big problem with long waits in Canada, the Canadians would be coming to the US in droves for their medical care. That writer discovered that Altru Health System in Grand Forks treated 13 Canadians in 2008 and that includes Canadians who became sick while in the area or were injured in auto accidents. It doesn’t sound like long waits is a big problem. I know that I personally have never met a Canadian who would trade our system for theirs.

I don’t think Sen. Kent Conrad’s (D-ND) plan for cooperatives will reduce the cost of health care. I think this kind of reform is useless because the insurance companies will still be given their tickets on the gravy train at our expense.

What we really need is a system similar to Canada’s. We should be thinking about putting everyone on Medicare (government health care).

Our Medicare system works very well. Recipients have their choice of doctors and there’s no bureaucrat between you and your doctor. Just ask someone on Medicare if you don’t believe me.

What we really have to do is throw the insurance companies off the health care system gravy train. Insurance companies don’t provide any medical care. They’re middlemen who suck the system dry.

Profits for the 10 largest insurance companies skyrocketed 400 percent from 2000 to 2007. The number of uninsured Americans increased 19 percent. The average take-home pay for health insurance CEO’s is now just under 12 million dollars a year. But that’s just the salary. Stephen Helmsley, the CEO of United Health Care has received from his company $744,232,068 in stock options since becoming CEO in November of 2006. Three quarters of a billion dollars! And, of course, stock is taxed at much, much lower rates than are the wages of us commoners. Helmsley’s compensation is more than $800,000 per day. PER DAY! These outrageous salaries are all part of our total cost of health care in the US.

There are 3,300 lobbyists working against health care reform. They are working for the insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies and the health care industry, most of which like things just as they are.

So far in 2009 the pharmaceutical companies have spent $134 million in lobbying efforts to kill health care reform.

The federal budget will never be balanced if we cannot get control of health care costs. State budgets are also in big trouble because of this. Medicare is going broke because of this situation.

But government control of the system would be a disaster, say the right-wingers. Oh, really? Medicare (government medical care) expenditures have about a two percent cost of administration.

Insurance company expenditures are about 12 percent. BlueCross and BlueShield are among the best insurance companies and that’s what most people in this area have. But other insurance companies are not quite as good. They do everything they can to get those who will cost them money off their rolls. It’s a serious problem.

If nothing is done, health insurance premiums will double in 10 years. Those who think they’ve got themselves covered and are protesting reform may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Any bill that passes without the option of public health care will be useless.

But as I said, the plans under consideration are only tinkering around the edges when we really need fundamental change.

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