Letters 3-12-09

Single payers

Dear Editor:

Arnold Schwarzenegger recently stated on a Sunday AM TV interview the best thing a politician can do is to listen to the people. Despite the fact that poll after poll has shown that Americans favor a single-payer health care program by overwhelming majorities, the president stated it is “off the table.”

Obama not only wasn’t listening; he abandoned his pledge for openness and change. His is a very different plan, keeping in place those long time corporate players who have brought us nearly to catastrophe. Last week they were summoned to the White House for a summit on solving the crisis.

Until thousands protested, advocates of single-payer were excluded. Under pressure, two were invited but not afforded prime speaking spots. “Big parties” like Pfizer, Merck and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association had priority.

They, with insurance companies and HMOs who define our wellness according to their profitability, determine who, where and how much a patient is deserving under their plans, and others that have bought into these provider plans oppose single-payer because it affords the patient freedom to choose his/her physician, hospital and pharmacy.

Single-payer is less expensive, more inclusive, more efficient, favored by nurses and doctors, frees the patient from remote control by non-medical administrators, frees industry of a crushing financial burden, was even praised by the president himself as the best solution. Then why can’t we have it? I believe it amounts to more than the stale adages: we can’t afford it, people will abuse it.

It appears there is controversy over how free the citizens of a free country should be allowed to be. Especially since they are already in the pockets of powerful corporations. One strategy I see to defeat single-payer is rather subtle, yet powerful. We hear very little on commercial TV about single-payer, even on those Sunday AM interviews and round tables. They limit rhetoric to the necessity of solving the crisis, not addressing how to approach it. The public is lulled.

Have you wondered why we see so many commercials for sleeping pills, asthma inhalers, or remedies to make the guys ready after a spell in the hot tub or a romp through a wheat field, none of which we are permitted to buy over-the-counter? The same in magazines. Laundry soap, junk foods, deodorants and decaf have yielded their slots to these promoters making networks and publishers deeply indebted to such patronage? Even Public Television, dependant on few commercial subsidies, offers pitifully little information or discussion.

Money talks; it pays to be discrete.

Unless taxpayers really make the issue, demand their senators and representatives skip their usual spin and take a stand for a system that works for public good, those corporate interests will formulate their own health care system for Congress. Trust it will be tooted as change, i.e., replacing premiums with subsidies to keep the prime players in place, patients in their pockets.

Don’t expect a peep from the discrete media.

Henry Buslepp

Rushing ahead

Dear Editor:

Rush Limbaugh hopes Obama will fail. No doubt Rush reckons if things get bad enough, he may finally be able to get a girl. The Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, has offered up Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber to lead the country into the 21st century.

Bob Dungan

Arboles

Resource Center

Dear Editor:

Thank you so much for featuring the Archuleta Women’s Resource Center in the Pagosa Sun. It is now open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. to host speakers on a variety of topics.

The center would not have happened without Peggy Drees, a full-time registered nurse at Pagosa Mountain Hospital, starting a group of interested, volunteer women. Some of the other dedicated women are Beverly Chester, Siri Schuchardt, Cathy Rose, Kim Collins, Elaine Lundergan, Joann Irons, LaQuita Johnson, Pinky Hamilton, Leslie White, Carrie Trumble, Bonnie Hite, Sarah Miley Bassett, Kathy Koy, Susie Kleckner and Cathy Van Lieve.

The response from the established community organizations that share the major support role for the women in need in Archuleta County has been wonderful. Karen Hatfield is providing some basic training for the volunteer staff. She will tailor training to our needs once our role in the community is more defined by the women we serve. Others have offered training as well.

Please share with your friends, neighbors and acquaintances that the Women’s Resource Center is open. Times are getting tougher and more women need assistance and, even, just someone to listen. The Women’s Resource Center wants to be there for the women of Archuleta County. The phone number is 731-3700, Ext. 253.

We especially thank Dr. Beth Mazzola for being our first guest speaker. Her informal talk on women’s health created quite a discussion among the women present. The energy and excitement was very apparent.

Thanks to all of you that joined us for our opening event. Please come again next month when LaQuita Johnson talks about the value of 9Health Fair and answers any questions about it.

Nancy Grovhoug

Tricare rumors

Dear Editor:

I feel compelled to reply to Kay Grams letter “Raise some hell” in last week’s SUN. I, too, spent over 20 years in the military and my family used civilian health care for the most part for the same reason she cited. I, too, have received several e-mails about the rumored cutting of Tricare for Life and adding more and higher fees for using Tricare for both Retirees and for Active Duty dependents. As much as I distrust and have no faith in our members of Congress, I find myself in a position of having to defend them on this issue. For the last eight years it has been the Bush Administration and the Rumsfeld Pentagon that have annually proposed these Tricare cuts in service and increases in costs, and veteran-friendly senators and representatives from both parties that have stopped it. Late last week I received an e-mail from a retired Army friend that included the response he had received on this issue from his Senator, Joe Lieberman. 

 According to Sen. Lieberman, “... I am aware of several chain e-mails, online discussion boards, blogs, and even articles in well-intentioned veterans’ publications that imply that President Obama and Congress plan on eliminating TRICARE for Life. The insinuations put forth by these sources are false. The source of these stories is a report issued by the CBO, entitled Budget Options Volume 1: Heath Care, released in December 2008 ... CBO is a nonpartisan federal agency, tasked with providing Congress with cost estimates for the many legislative proposals considered each year. It also periodically offers Congress suggestions for adjusting federal spending … Its recommendations about the budget are completely non binding; and its officers do not draft actual policy, legislation, or law. The Budget Options report in question offers a total of 115 options for reducing (or, in some cases, increasing) federal spending on health care, only three of which relate to TRICARE. These options are merely suggestions, not policy statements or actual legislation ... President Obama has not indicated support for the three recommendations in this report related to TRICARE, nor has any Member of Congress, to the best of my knowledge ...You may also be interested to know that both the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) have issued statements condemning the aforementioned rumors that are being perpetuated through these chain e-mails ... As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, please be assured of my continued commitment to protecting the various interests of all those who have fought tirelessly to protect our cherished freedoms.”

 Jim Huffman

Veto 1274

Dear Editor:

As a former police officer and public servant, I feel compelled to speak out and encourage Governor Ritter to veto House Bill 1274, a bill which would have the effect of doing away with the death penalty in Colorado.

Let’s not play games here. HB 1274 is not really about helping to solve cold case files — analysis suggests the bill would only direct $370,000 a year to these efforts. Rather, this bill is nothing more than a sneaky attempt by opponents of the death penalty to get their way without engaging in a full, honest and fair debate before the people of our state. Those behind this effort ought to come out and state their case and let us all make a decision on its merits, instead of hiding their purpose behind the emotion and hope of those families seeking justice. To these families, our state can do better: the money to assist in your quest for justice can and should be found; your case stands tall on its merits and deserves not to be confused with the larger debate on the death penalty.

Coloradans throughout the state have differing views on the contentious issue of abolishing the death penalty, though at the very least they deserve a full and open debate before a decision is made. As for me, I don’t believe our society has yet found any other way to sufficiently punish the truly heinous acts of a Timothy McVeigh or a Ted Bundy aside from the death penalty. Regardless, let us first agree that this House Bill is simply an attempt to avoid this very debate and to divert attention by purporting to solve cold case files. This end-run around the people of Colorado should be stopped. The Governor should not hesitate to veto this measure and force those who support abolishing the death penalty out into the light of day where the people of Colorado can decide the issue—on its merits!

Sincerely,

Scott McInnis

Grand Junction

Mortgage deduction

Dear Editor:

The federal administration’s budget plan proposes to limit the tax rate at which high-income taxpayers — those whose family income is $250,000 ($200,000 for singles) or more — could take itemized deductions only at 28 percent.  For example, if you are in the 35 percent income tax bracket and you have tax deductions of $10,000, you would be able only to deduct 28 percent of that — $2,800; in essence, a tax hike. Such a limitation would impact homeowners and home values because the mortgage interest deduction for many families is the single biggest itemized deduction they take.

The Administration says that would raise $318 billion over the next 10 years, and would pay for other programs, like health care.  Per the National Association of REALTORS®, “there are lots of ways to skin a cat, but no reason to skin homeowners.”

Even though the proposal would apply only to households earning $250,000, NAR thinks home prices across the board would fall as home buyers discount the value of the deduction in their purchase offers, setting off a chain reaction that will affect prices on all homes, not just the high-end homes. That’s because a fall in home prices at the top end will filter down to homes priced on the lower end. This will hurt not only the top 2 percent of families but also the 75 million homeowners across the country. That will start another credit crunch while we’re trying to get out of this one.

NAR and REALTORS® across the country aggressively support the mortgage interest deduction because it helps people become and remain homeowners. NAR believes the deduction makes homeownership easier by reducing the carrying costs of ownership. Our current tax system does not “cause” homeownership. The tax system facilitates homeownership and it has been instrumental in helping our nation achieve a remarkably high rate of homeownership. At a time when all of us are working to revitalize the housing market to ignite economic recovery, tinkering with the mortgage interest deduction is wrongheaded. Congress has recently provided an $8,000 tax credit to help first-time homebuyers and boost the housing market; changing the deduction for high-bracket homeowners attacks another segment of that market. The tax deductibility of interest paid on mortgages is both a powerful incentive for homeownership and one of the simplest provisions in the tax code. It should not be targeted for change.

Janet E. Santopietro

Pagosa Springs Area Association of REALTORS®