Letters to the editor for July 8, 2013

By Observer Upload July 08, 2013 10:51 am
Letters to the editor for July 8, 2013

Private insurance companies destroying health care

To the Editor:

I have seen a lot of changes since I began my pediatric practice in La Grande in 1977. Based on my experience, I can say without a doubt the single biggest destructive force has been the increasing influence of private insurance companies. They add nothing of any value to health care, yet their operating expenses amount to an average of 28 percent. Add to this the portion of any provider’s charges necessary to staff an army of personnel who deal with countless insurance plans with different billing requirements, and basically a third of all health care dollars do nothing but cover clerical costs. When I started my practice, an office call was either $8 or $12, and my partner and I had exactly two employees between us — a nurse and an office secretary. 

It makes no sense to continue to look to private insurance companies, with stockholders to please and high-paid CEOs to salary, for any solution to the problems we face. Every article I have ever read on medical economics over the past 20 years has said the same thing. The current system is not sustainable. 

To me, the only plausible answer is a single-payer system like every other industrialized nation in the world has. We already have examples of this: Medicare and the VA system. Ask any senior citizen, he or she will tell you that Medicare is the best insurance they have ever had. What they often don’t know is that Medicare’s operating expenses equal 3 percent. 

This is not a liberal idea; it is an economic reality. There is a recent editorial (June 11, 2013) in the Charlotte, N.C., Observer by Mr. Jack Bernard, a retired health care executive and former chairman of the Jasper County, Ga., Republican Party, calling for a single-payer system. According to a medical economist he quotes, a national single-payer system would produce “enormous savings, $18.7 billion.” The difference in per capita expenditure between the USA and other countries is truly staggering; yet by most metrics, those same countries have much better outcomes. I would encourage you to read this article and send a copy to your elected official. 

If we do nothing, costs will continue to escalate and the health gap between the U.S. and other industrialized countries will continue to widen. It is that simple. 

Thomas K. Geraci, MD

La Grande

Treat injured
raptors responsibly

To the Editor:

Recently, along 237 between Cove and La Grande, I’ve been aware of raptors lying dead on the highway. They appeared to be red-tailed hawks, and one was confirmed a barn owl by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. I thought I would share with readers that this time of year raptors are beginning to fly from their nests. 

Fish and Wildlife representatives shared there is a scarcity of food for these raptors so they may be prompted to leave nests early. Sometimes, these young birds fly across roadways and into oncoming vehicles.

It’s important residents be aware of raptors and the protection laws. Oregon has protection laws that can cause penalties of up to $6,250 or a year in jail. Also, all hawks and owls, including eagles, etc., are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 USC,703-711). These laws strictly prohibit the capture, killing or possession of hawks or owls without special permit.

If you have a problem with the raptors, please contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife. If you have an unfortunate accident with one of these birds, please ensure they are not left in the hot roadway to suffer, if alive. Moving them off the road is legal and humane, as is euthanizing them in this case. But, please do not put them in your vehicle for transport. You can contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife or the Oregon State Police for proper procedure, or to notify of live and injured raptors.

Oregonians appreciate our magnificent raptors. This is why we have protection laws. I consciously want to make people aware of their difficulties this time of year, and of our humane responsibilities for these beautiful birds.

Darlene Rochna