Letters to the editor for February 17, 2014

By Observer Upload February 17, 2014 07:32 am

U.S. needs health program that covers everyone

To the Editor:

The Affordable Care Act was designed to increase access to health insurance by requiring states to expand Medicaid coverage to people with incomes less than 138 percent of the federal poverty line, $19,560 for a family of three in 2013.

Fortunately for low-income rural Oregonians, Oregon has implemented Medicaid expansion. The federal government pays 100 percent of costs of the expansion for three years and 90 percent after that.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that states are not required to expand Medicaid. Twenty-five states have opted out of Medicaid expansion. As a consequence, many low-income women in those states are likely to forego recommended breast and cervical cancer screening, diabetics will forego medications and all low-income adults will face a greater likelihood of depression, catastrophic medical expenses and death.

Physicians for a National Health Program estimate that after full implementation of ObamaCare more than 32 million Americans will still lack health insurance. Nearly 8 million of those Americans would have health insurance if their states had opted to increase Medicaid coverage. Between 7,115 and 17,104 persons are likely to die because their states opted out of Medicaid expansion. 

The decision of 25 states to leave 8 million Americans without health insurance reflects a fundamental flaw of ObamaCare as interpreted by the Supreme Court. What we need is universal, publicly funded health care that is made affordable by eliminating excessive profits and CEO salaries of insurance companies and Big Pharma. We need a national program with “Everybody in and nobody out.”

For information about how Eastern Oregonians are working for this goal and how you can be involved, contact Oregon Rural Action This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or Health Care for All Oregon www.HCAO.org

Bill Whitaker

La Grande

Time to make your voices heard with the USFS

To the Editor:

What defines freedom? Is it an individual’s call to support the “greater good” or is it their ability to live as a sovereign being in the world?

You are going to be told over the next few months that “we are doing this for the greater good” or “we are only following orders.” This, my friends, is the how bad policy starts, and even worse things begin for the people of our region. 

We’ve saw how the greater good works in our region, we’ve seen as a “collaboration group” has sprung from the ashes of the Travel Management Plan. All that’s been collaborated on is more road closures in a project by project means, in a group that we have been told would not deal with such issues. 

We now see the greater good play out in “public meetings” and through an “open and transparent” system. Where the U.S. Forest Service intentionally withholds meeting times, and stonewalls emails so the public cannot participate in meetings.

No, my friends, this is not freedom. We are living in something much less. We are currently watching a group of men and women attempt to walk over the top of us. They claim to be civil servants, when they actually practice the tightly guarded secret of “activism through professionalism.” They mean to see you out of your mountains, what they claim as “public land” and that they are “protecting” is simply a way to frame their position as noble and just.

Right are the people that stand for their God-given right to live their life the way they see fit. March is coming. Will you be at the meetings they allow you to attend at least?

If you want to keep your access to your mountains, you must tell the USFS you demand that right, or they will take it from you. They will tell you the Forest Plan Revision is not the place for that discussion, but it is, and you must be ready to tell them no to anything that denies you access, clearly, loudly and with as large a voice as you can muster.

John D. George


Face-to-face interaction 
make richer, stronger lives

To the Editor:

Technology has produced some remarkable achievements, particularly in medicine. It has made our world much smaller. We should be thankful for these. 

But excessive use of technology has dulled us to the world around, giving us a bland-tasting drink with way too many empty calories. You can still see some kids out playing in the snow, at the parks or on neighborhood lawns in the summer. But it is much different than it used to be. 

There are so many things of value for young people to do instead of texting or Facebooking or whatever. Dads (or family friends or uncles), take the kids to the park and shoot baskets, play catch, build snowmen. Mow the lawn or shovel snow for that elderly neighbor. See if she needs her plants watered. In the summer, do more porch sitting, and actually talk with your friends, face to face, put your hand on their shoulder. Go for a walk and get some coffee with them. Buy them an ice cream in the summer. Garden. Birdwatch. Volunteer at the Humane Society. Take your friend to a campus event. Face-to-face, person-to-person activities are what made for richer lives and built strong, vibrant communities in the past, and will do so in the future.

Steve Boe

La Grande