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Knocking on Wood for Single Payer 

Editor:

I identify as part of the "small" very vocal group Dr. Jim Wood refers to in "Setting the Record Straight," (Dec. 28, 2017).

Whenever people say that there are insurmountable obstacles to getting something done, it usually means they do not want to do it, not that it can't be done. If Dr. Wood truly believes in a single payer system, as he states he does, he needs to do something to move Senate Bill 562 along. There is some work to be done.

S.B. 562 is a vehicle through which an improved healthcare system can be achieved. If you think this will be easy, consider the history of the Canadian single payer system. It was not a slam dunk by any means in Saskatchewan, where universal coverage started. Yet, today, Canada has a healthcare system that is far superior to ours and providers are generally satisfied.

If you want to know more about the California Healthcare Foundation, which Dr. Wood refers to and quotes, I urge you to research the board of directors listed on its website www.chcf.org/about/board-of-directors.

"Is the public ready to pay for this system through another payroll tax?" Wood asks. A payroll tax is easier to navigate than a monthly premium charge. Costs could be controlled much more easily through a single payer system. Realistic funding models have been proposed, and S.B. 562 is a blueprint for something that could actually happen if there were the will to make it happen.

Finally, I think attacking one's constituents is not a good idea. Maybe Dr. Wood perceives a "small" group — and yes, there are only a few vocal members of the group — but each vocal member has an army behind them. Dr. Wood, represent your constituents!

Carol Moné, Trinidad

Editor:

Dear Mr. Wood, there are several things in you recent op-ed that bother us single payer supporters. The most salient for me was your assessment of the state of Medicare and the administrative cost thereof (which, by the way, is only 3 percent as compared to the 15 percent you tout as the prowess of private insurance). You slyly blow that corporate dog-whistle, "Are we sure a government program can be as efficient (as one of our private insurers)?" That is so Trumpian — sow doubt, revive "government takeover" and scare people into accepting less than what the rest of industrialized democracies enjoy.  

You also bring up the waiver challenge. We understand perfectly that as long as we have Trump, that will not be easy. That's what lawyers are for. It is not a reason to just give up and cobble together a half-baked, private insurance-dominated plan that cannot be controlled or overseen, where prices will rise and the poor will be priced out. I would prefer to keep trying, even if it takes three more years, rather than settle for that. And given your remark about administrative cost, I am becoming more convinced that is exactly where you are heading.  

We are not naïve. We do not "promise everything." What we intend is a program no less than Canada, Mexico and the European and Australian continents use. We know they are not perfect, only that they are (at least) twice as good as our own. We have seen the behavior of corporate insurance and Big Pharma, like an octopus strangling the life out of our nation, and we want it to stop. They must be eliminated or strictly controlled. Don't tell us to settle for less.

Patty Harvey, Willow Creek

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