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Letter to the Editor: Our health-care system is failing Americans

Letters to the Editor are an important advocacy tool. They are quick to write and are one of the most widely read sections in the newspaper. Many politicians and government agencies routinely clip and circulate letters to the editor as indicators of what is important to their constituents.

Below is a letter to the Seattle Times published February 1, 2019, urging Americans to go beyond stopgap measures. We hope it inspires you to write a letter to the editor to your local paper.

Updated February 16th with a letter that was submitted, but not published. Ken is on a roll!

The Seattle Times has published two recent Op-Eds about health-care reform that advocate improved insurance plans for circumscribed groups instead of comprehensive, universal health-care coverage for all Americans.

“Build up the Affordable Care Act for workers and their families” by Lee Newgent explicitly rejects universal health-care options, despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act still leaves tens of millions grossly underinsured or uninsured.

Then we heard from Sue Birch in her piece “Time to offer health care for all public-school employees.”  This is fine for this small, deserving group of people. But it is just one more stopgap fix for a few to try to address a fatally flawed “system” that by any standard is failing for so many more.

Why can’t Americans flip the present paradigm on its head and enact a universal health plan that automatically includes everyone? And then if you don’t like “government health care,” you can opt for corporate care instead. This is what happens in every other industrialized economy. We have the talent and the treasure to make it happen here as well.

Kenneth Fabert, M.D., Bainbridge Island

Here's is another letter submitted to the Seattle Times, but was not published about some Labor Unions hesitation to give up healthcare as a bargaining chip:

Dear Editors:

The Opinion Piece that appeared on January 24, 2019 by Lee Newgent entitled "Build Up the Affordable Care Act for workers and their families" provides a succinct summary of the self-interested and exclusionary stance that has all too often been taken by organized labor in resisting comprehensive healthcare reform and the ultimate achievement of UNIVERSAL healthcare in this country. Why would labor want to give up an exclusive bargaining chip in contract negotiations? And why would they want to abandon the archaic and dysfunctional concept of putting your employer in charge of your healthcare?

They don't. Sure, they "fought and made sacrifices" to secure good healthcare benefits.
For themselves. But what about the vast majority of non-union workers, many of whom are low-wage or part-time and who are often grossly underinsured or uninsured despite the Affordable Care Act? They need and deserve comprehensive, universal healthcare just like all their working brothers and sisters in all the other developed democracies. This means everyone, not just those with a strong union.

The time is past for special interests--whether labor, the insurance industry, hospitals, pharma or doctors--to advocate even more piecemeal, patchwork fixes for a healthcare system that is demonstrably one of the main drivers of economic and social apartheid in this country. Healthcare for all is not only a financial necessity, it is a moral imperative. This is the richest country in the world. Why can't we take care of everyone, not just the insiders?

Kenneth Fabert, MD, Bainbridge Island, WA


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