Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for March 10

Start over on health care reform

The approach by President Barack Obama to health care is wrong, and he should start over from scratch.

For starters, treat health care organizations as a corporation because that is what they are. Tax them.

The purpose of a corporation is to generate profits and provide shareholders a return on their investment. When has a health care organization ever lost money with the prices they charge?

How about the nonsense that health care organizations lose money providing free care for those who have no insurance? Health care organizations collect off those who can’t pay by charging higher rates to insurance companies, who then raise premiums for those who have insurance.

If health care organizations tried to pass on added costs to consumers, it would be balance billing. That’s illegal, but not if added costs are charged to insurance companies, who then raise premiums for those they provide coverage for.

While people are distracted with higher premiums, insurance companies then add additional costs to provide them a profit because you’re distracted and will not know whom to blame. Businesses provide a loss leader to get shoppers into the store. Health care facilities never offer a sale or discount on procedures.

Health care is an established monopoly of greed by corporate heads. Why do medical facilities fight one another to keep the competition from duplicating medical procedures? Audit health care facilities and see just how they spend their money on useless technology and junk that doesn’t improve efficiency or patient outcomes.


Colonoscopy is best screening test

I applaud The Olympian articles by Dr. Diana Yu and reporter Lauran Neergaard for raising public awareness about colorectal cancer, the cause of 50,000 deaths per year in the U.S. I would like to correct Neergaard’s comparison of the efficacy of mail-in stool tests (hemoccults) and colonoscopy.

She stated that hemoccults are considered “as effective if properly used once a year.”

Actually, even the most sensitive of the stool tests has a very low sensitivity for identifying polyps, the precursors to cancer, and at best 80 percent sensitivity for identifying colon cancer. There are also many false positives, which lead to anxiety and extra testing (which may be the reason that they are effective at all).

Colonoscopy has a sensitivity of greater than 99 percent for cancer and polyps greater than 5 millimeters. The primary goal of screening is colon cancer prevention, which can only be achieved by identification and removal of polyps. It is for this reason that colonoscopy is recommended as the best screening test.

Hemoccults have a place in the screening regimen for people who cannot undergo colonoscopy, or decline it for other reasons. March is National Colorectal Cancer Screening month, so be sure to talk with your physicians about your screening options.

DR. KATHRYNE WAGNER, Gastroenterology Associates

We criminalize what we fear

A highly regarded, invaluable asset to Olympia allegedly smokes dope. We might ask ourselves: “If true, exactly how has marijuana compromised our mayor pro tem’s functioning? And if he’s been selling it to his friends, exactly how has it compromised their functioning?”

I don’t know the answer to the latter, but to the former it is clear: It hasn’t. The only negative consequence is that he has fallen afoul of the law. So, what’s the real problem here: marijuana or the law?

In Jamaica, many people smoke marijuana, some for 50 and more years. Researchers from major universities interview them to determine the long-term effects of marijuana use. The result? No obvious deleterious effects.

Switzerland decriminalized heroin. The result? Use dropped precipitously. No longer a cool way to defy authority, users simply appear pathetic. The youth aren’t interested.

After Holland decriminalized marijuana because dealers were creating artificial shortages to hook people on harder drugs, hard-drug use plummeted.

The island of Trinidad’s murder rate is higher than any American city. Twenty years ago, George Shultz, William F. Buckley and other conservatives advised that drugs be decriminalized or we would lose the Caribbean to crime. They were ignored. Now, organized crime threatens many governments there.

We criminalize what we fear: drug addicts, for example. Unfortunately, laws don’t constitute treatment, and treatment is unlikely to improve until we discover how so many upstanding citizens (lawyers, business people, clergy, contractors, et al) manage to use marijuana responsibly.

Unfortunately, the law precludes that.


Pot possession, sale is still illegal

What’s going on? All these politicians saying, “Poor Joe (Hyer). Don’t blame him for a minor thing like pot.” Or, “Don’t blame Joe because he has not been convicted yet.” Or, “He has done so much good in the community, why prosecute him?”

For heaven’s sake. Would they bleed for me if I got busted for pot possession after my 46 years of community doctoring? Please.

Is pot possession legal or not? While I feel sorry for good old Joe, he is charged with an offense. It happens to someone almost every day. The politicians’ defense of this offense makes me wonder if all the politicians sit in pot smoke-filled rooms too much. Maybe they want to have the pot industry supplement the tax collections?

Elections coming up? Time for changes?