Wednesday, November 11, 2009

U.S. needs heath reform for all of us

intact insurance

To the Times:

Excerpts from a letter recently sent to U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.:

(I) am from UFCW Local 152. In June 2002 you sent me a thank you letter for correspondence I had mailed to you relating to health and prevention (and) not to hesitate to be in further contact with you on this or any other matter. This is very good timing, please read on!

We truly need health-care reform now. For a good 10 years UFCW has been fighting for health-care reform on behalf of its members and, indirectly, everyone else.

Contracts are becoming more and more difficult to get the workers a decent wage increase due to the ever-exploding cost of health care. The piece of the pie for wages just keeps shrinking. We need to fix this for everyone.

Since 1999 family health-care premiums have doubled. In 1993, 61 percent of small businesses provided some kind of health insurance for their employees; it’s down to 38 percent, as quoted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently on “Meet the Press.”

When I was hired by UFCW almost 10 years ago, we created a prevention, health and nutrition program. We set out to offer a well-rounded packet of information to a member’s specific condition. That person having the information in print could reference the material indefinitely — in turn, a member with an illness or injury that is better informed and understands the condition, stands a better chance at a more rapid recovery. Their employer won’t need a replacement as long; the worker may return earlier and may avoid a chronic health problem. If recovery is sooner than later, the health fund itself benefits, everyone benefit.

In 2002, I had sent you health information in regards to melanomas when you were personally dealing with it. You had received first-hand an idea of what we were doing on a personal level in regards to prevention, health and nutrition. I was very pleased seven years later your platform as presidential candidate had a health and prevention plan that was a key point in the health-care reform you suggested.

Today I am an “Occupational Safety and Health Rep./Political Legislative Rep.” We’ve been ahead of the curve, and going out proactively addressing safety, that in turn may prevent injury.

We have a Mobile Health and Wellness Unit, a van that services our members of UFCW Local 152, Local 1360 & 27.

With this service, we hope to prevent major health problems before they start health issues. All this, shows there is potential for real health-care reform that we need now.

Is it not the ideal moment for you to read this letter and take a look at what we do, how it may have possibly fit in to the health reform you were seeking as presidential candidate? Looking at the preventive measures we offer, could you possibly apply some of the ideas to the healthcare reform situation that is presently upon us. Please consider the possibilities.

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Excerpts from a letter received from Sen. McCain on Sept. 29:

Any new reform must also encourage prevention initiatives that work. Medicare and Medicaid payment systems must also be reformed to promote prevention.

I believe our health-care system should use health information technology to improve efficiency and quality in health care, and that we should find ways to reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits, which drive up the cost of health care and make coverage more expensive.

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Sen. McCain believes we should find ways to reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits. I agree, but medical malpractice lawsuits should not be eliminated altogether.

In the auto insurance industry, a driver hits the side of the roadway and is seriously injured. The insurance industry makes payouts to those injured. The insurance industry/company goes after the state involved and makes the state remedy the problem with proprietary roadside safety devices like portable water-filled barriers or a guard rail, etc. This equals less in future payouts, safer roads and less human injury. It is in a sense, a self-checking system.

An argument can be made that a medical industry kept on its toes by leaving carefully reformed malpractice intact is a safer medical industry. Safer care that will continually search for advances in procedures, medical devices, prosthesis and drugs.

The worry that lessened competition will not bring forth advances, I believe is false. Do some want to end malpractice lawsuits or weaken them to the point that the industry won’t fear them at all?

I believe a proposal should be made to abolish class-action lawsuits.

These actions in most cases only place tens of millions of dollars into the pockets of the filing law firm, and the claimant on average gets $100 to $1,000 due to thousands of claimants on a nationwide list of the class-action suit. Class-action should be abolished.

And last but not least, on the possibility of taxing the health-care benefits our members receive from their employer is absolutely unfair and outright wrong. Our members have sacrificed contract after contract and have accepted less in wage increases to pay for the out-of-control costs of medical insurance. It would be devastating to then tax these hardworking people again and again.

We need health-care reform that works for all Americans.



UFCW Local 152

Political Legislative Rep/Occupational Safety & Health Representative