Soap Box

Moonwalk, 1969
07/25/2019

My father took long walks at night under the stars he learned
to know and name and depend
upon when navigating in the navy.

I went with him on a full
moon night less than a week
after Neil and Buzz and Michael
parachuted into the sea.

I could do that, I told him,
one day when I grow up.
I could go too and walk on the moon...

Well, he said and stopped
and looked up to study the bright
gorgeous orb in the sky,
I suppose you could at that.

But to tell the truth my boy
I have to say that I think I liked
it better before the footprints

– Gregory Moore, Heperus

Using RoundUp is irresponsible
07/25/2019

To the editor,

Can anyone explain why so many of our local stores are still stocking RoundUp weed killer on their shelves, often with highly visible promotions, which must mean that locals are still purchasing it in spite of its widely publicized carcinogenic properties??

Ignorance and indifference are no excuse for continuing to expose us all to Monsanto/Bayers most toxic product ever. There are now over 13,000 lawsuits against both companies by victims of this weed killer, which contains glyphosate, linked to a proven increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Glyphosates don’t disappear but stay in the environment, endangering us all. One couple has already been awarded over $2 billion, other lawsuits are resulting in multimillion-dollar awards. Will it take bankruptcy for these companies to stop production?

Monsanto and Bayer are putting profits before public safety, and anyone who sells or uses it is equally guilty. A few weeds in one’s yard mean nothing compared to a cancer diagnosis due to unnecessary and irresponsible exposure.

– Katherine A. Reynolds, Durango

Debunking insurance propaganda
07/25/2019

To the editor,

Recently, Big Pharma, insurance companies and private hospitals formed a nonprofit called Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) to oppose Medicare for All. They spent $143 million lobbying legislators in this effort. They also produced their first of many misleading online ads for the American public. They put a lot of money behind this ad to confuse the public for the next few weeks. Here’s a breakdown of what the ad says, (in italics):

“Today over 180 million Americans with employer-based coverage have access to affordable and quality health care.”

It’s true that 180 million Americans, just under half the country, get health insurance from their
employer. But, employee contributions to their plans have gone up an average of 21 percent over the past five years, far outstripping average wage growth. Flat wages and greater share of premium payments makes health care much less “affordable.”

And, it’s clear that the quality is not great. If you look at comparable wealthy countries, we have a lower life expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality, the highest rates of hospitalization for preventable diseases, and the highest rates of death from medical conditions. In 2019, the U.S. embarrassingly ranked 35th in quality outcomes for health, according to the World Health Organization.

“Some people are proposing we start over and eliminate employer-provided insurance.”

Technically, Medicare for All eliminates commercial for-profit insurance. The key is that under Medicare for All, you won’t need employer-provided insurance with all its waste, complexity, narrow networks and costs.

“Whether it’s called Medicare for All, single-payer or a public option.” 

Two out of three isn’t bad, but pretending that Medicare for All is a public option is an intentionally confusing lie.

Public options keep commercial insurers in place and allow them to “cherry pick” the healthiest patients, thus maintaining their profits while moving the least healthy, high-risk patients onto government insurance. It would be an improvement over what we have now, but public options won’t help control costs. Medicare for All will control spiraling health-care costs.

• “A one-size fits all health-care program means that Americans would have less choice and less control over their doctors, treatments and coverage.”

This one is a bald-faced lie. Right now, if you have the luxury of being able to afford to go to a doctor, you are restricted to “in-network” doctors and receive treatments that your insurance company approves. Under Medicare for All, you’d have the ability to go to almost any doctor of your choosing and would eliminate the profit incentive that insurance companies have.

• “It will also mean trillions of dollars in higher taxes for hardworking families, lower quality of care and longer wait times for patients.”

We already mentioned how our quality of care is actually much worse than single-payer countries. It’s true there would be new taxes to fund the improved system. But a single-payer system would save us trillions of dollars over the next 10 years in the total amount we spend for health care, and as a result, the vast majority of workers and employers would be paying significantly less than they currently pay. Perhaps employers could actually offer higher wages.

Now let’s address “wait times,” a favorite talking point. There’s no evidence that improved Medicare for All would lead to longer wait times. Americans already wait longer than almost all industrialized countries in the world. Most Americans with private insurance have such high deductibles, they often put off seeing a doctor.

“Health-care decisions would be shifted from patients and their doctors to politicians and bureaucrats.”

Right now, when your doctor decides you need medical attention, you have to hope that your insurance company will pay for it. Since the insurance company’s only responsibility is to its shareholders, it will look for any way to deny the claim. If we take the profit motive away, doctors will be able to provide the treatment you need, and you won’t have to worry about drowning in medical debt. One-third of GoFundMe pages are filled with people begging for life-saving care. And most of them have health insurance. Real people, with real diseases should not have to beg, borrow or steal to control their disease.

“America could work to improve what’s working.”

What we have now is absolutely NOT working. It’s the most expensive and bureaucratic system in the world. Nearly 30 million people are uninsured, and we have the worst health-care results of industrialized countries.

Please be aware we will keep being barraged with these propaganda-filled ads, as national improved Medicare for All gains traction with frustrated, angry and bankrupt Americans.

– Jan Phillips, Durango

Shadow
07/18/2019

It follows slightly to the side and behind
like a lost disciple,
hungry for love.
It tags along
resigned,
attached to countless parallels.
It dreams of a lost
axis of freedom
in detailed perpendiculars.
It hums under the dark
for some mischief in your longing,
hoping for
that “someday”
when it can finally break loose
and dance farther ahead,
leaving all that you were
behind.

– Burt Baldwin, Ignacio

Myth busting Medicare For All
07/18/2019

To the editor,

After listening to the Democratic debates, it’s clear that the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are acting like fog machines at a rock concert. They’re obscuring the truth and confusing the public about improved Medicare For All, using media manipulation and well-placed legislators.

When asking candidates about Medicare for All, moderator Lester Holt’s words reflected industry bias: “Who here would abolish their private insurance in favor of a government-run plan?”

Would Holt have referred to public schools as “government-run education?” By saying “private health insurance” instead of “corporate-profiteering plans,” Holt perpetuates the intentionally misleading terminology. Under National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA), our government would NOT be providing health-care delivery.

NIMA would use a government-funded single-payer model. Health care would be managed by independent hospitals and physicians using standardized rates. A single public agency would provide the financing, (Medicare model), private physicians and hospitals will deliver the care – not the government.

Holt doubled down on his bias later in the debate, claiming Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill “would put essentially everybody on Medicare, then eliminate private plans that offer similar coverage.”

In fact, Sanders’ bill provides everyone with comprehensive health-care coverage, including dental, hearing, vision and home-based long-term care – all without copayments or deductibles. You don’t find this kind of blanket coverage in private plans today.

NIMA would eliminate confusing “in and out of network” providers. Americans would have complete freedom to choose doctors, hospitals and specialists throughout the country.

– Jan Phillips, Durango