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It's Complicated 

Editor:

Thank you for publishing Assemblyman Jim Wood's "Setting the Record Straight" views piece (Dec. 28) on the single payer health care bill (Senate Bill 562). He clearly states he and other assemblymembers want a single payer healthcare system. It was refreshing that he admitted it's a complicated issue and placed trust in his constituents to comprehend its complexities. He did not say there were insurmountable obstacles (Carol Moneé, Jan. 11, letter to the editor), nor that private healthcare "administrative costs" were lower than Medicare government costs (Patty Harvey, Jan. 11, letter to the editor). He detailed challenges moving forward with achieving single payer insurance, in which he believes and supports.

In my opinion, some constituents' passion for single payer healthcare overwhelms their rational ability to understand the complexity of the associated issues. I believe Assemblyman Wood is committed to single payer and working hard to deal with the facts and challenges involved. He needs his constituents' help and support to be successful, not their unfair criticisms.

Pat Lydon, Ferndale

Editor:

Thank you, Ken Miller (Mailbox, Jan. 18), for your spot on letter about single payer as well as the article by Kathryn Donahue ("Healthcare Access is a Human Right," Jan. 18). We need to be having this public discussion now to push forward the reality of our state adopting this.

I just finished signing up for a MediGap plan as I am beginning to receive Medicare Part B this month and need the gap plan so that I am well covered. For those who are touting Medicare for a single payer health care plan, it's going to cost me $250 a month, oh yeah, because I didn't mention that I had to buy a prescription drug plan as well. If you don't sign up for plans in the beginning of the enrollment period, you are penalized with higher premiums. This is all happening as I am starting to collect Social Security, so my income is less too. The rules are many, it's all pretty daunting and not designed for the people. I would propose that we fight for a system like VA healthcare.

I know it isn't perfect but we would all be covered with no copays or deductibles. I would be happy to pay a tax or premium to have that kind of healthcare and have the peace of mind not to have to worry about whether some treatment is covered if I have a serious health issue, especially as I am getting older. Healthcare is one of the areas of our collective lives that should not be for-profit simply because then someone's profit becomes more important than our health. Healthcare should be available to all regardless of income.

Oh, and did I mention that I need to get some extensive dental work and will be going down to Mexico to have it done because the cost is totally out of sight here? There are droves of people going there to have medical and dental work done because of the high cost of health care in the United States. There is something wrong with this picture and we must change it.

Lynn Kerman, Eureka

Editor:

Assemblyman Jim Wood, in his Dec. 28 views piece in the North Coast Journal raises numerous questions about S.B. 562, The Healthy California Act. He points out that a single payer system for California might well need a payroll tax that would be difficult to pass. He mentions that integrating such a system with existing veteran's benefits and Medicare would be extremely complicated and that it would probably need cooperation from the Trump administration, which it is unlikely to get.

All this is extremely frustrating to those of us who know that the citizens of virtually every other advanced country get better healthcare at much lower costs. Those who decry government bureaucracy should remember that the current "system" requires healthcare providers to deal with dozens if not hundreds of separate private bureaucracies, each with its different rules and red tape.

Obamacare was a considerable help to our healthcare problem but it was essentially a Band-Aid, and we did not get the public option (thanks to Joe Lieberman) that a majority of Americans wanted. Public opinion clearly is losing patience with our inefficient, ramshackle system. Did everyone notice the rather astounding news that the average lifespan in the U.S. has actually decreased the last two years?

Assemblyman Wood has promised that his select committee on universal healthcare intends to "... produce, early next year, actionable recommendations that could be used to develop a comprehensive and workable healthcare system for all." We eagerly await their report and if it fails to deliver on that promise, they should be forcefully reminded that they were not elected just to do the easy stuff.

Bruce Will, Hydesville

Editor:

As I listen to the brewing battles over children's health care (CHIP), Medi-cal, Medicare, and now, the employers' insurance mandate, I am saddened and baffled. Our current system divides us into competing small groups where we fight for the small Band-Aid of healthcare for our particular group instead of addressing the larger systemic illness of our healthcare system as a whole.

The reality is that our health, as members of a society, is interrelated. A child needs healthcare and needs the parent who cares for her to have healthcare. The employees of large companies need affordable healthcare they can keep if the job ends or if employers are no longer required to insure them (as Congress is now discussing). Insured taxpayers benefit from hospital emergency rooms that are not overflowing with the uninsured desperately seeking primary care. Our mutual community safety is enhanced if drug addicts can easily get treatment. We are all in this leaky boat together.

I have heard the argument, "Why make people pay for healthcare they don't need?" But the reality is that health is largely unpredictable and once you need it, it is too late. None of us can fully predict the accident nor the surprising illness that can wipe out our financial safety net (including much touted Health Savings Accounts) in the matter of one hospital visit. Single payer could solve many of these problems, as all of us would be covered in one efficient cradle-to-grave system.

Opponents of single payer say the current bill, S.B. 562, does not address funding. There is actually a research-backed funding plan connected to it. But if that is deemed inadequate, I urge our legislators to take it off the shelf and work on it. Our national healthcare system is being rapidly dismantled. I want the California Legislature to take the next step now to create a state alternative.

Please read www.healthycaliforniaact.org. If you agree, please let our legislators (Democrats especially) know you want them to work on this bill now. Currently, it is Democratic representatives who are in control of the process and need to hear your voice.

Cathy Chandler-Klein, Eureka

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