Time is right for improved healthcare | Letter to the editor

Posted 3/11/21

Many of our elected officials seem unaware that many poor and middle class people are living a healthcare nightmare.

Medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy and homelessness. Nearly one …

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Time is right for improved healthcare | Letter to the editor

Posted

Many of our elected officials seem unaware that many poor and middle class people are living a healthcare nightmare.

Medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy and homelessness. Nearly one in four Americans skip medical care because of cost. Almost 500,000 people in Washington and approximately 10 percent of Jefferson County residents have no insurance, and many who do face high deductibles and co-payment fees.

Nearly all recent studies conclude that ending our employer-based, for-profit healthcare system and moving to a single-payer plan is the most affordable and easily implemented response to this crisis. Yet a divided Congress and a President who promises a veto make the likelihood of national healthcare reform remote.

But could we do it here? In Washington we have a unique chance to pioneer single payer, thanks to a group of healthcare professionals, activists and volunteers who’ve developed a plan for universal, publicly financed healthcare in Washington state. The Whole Washington Health Trust, introduced in Senate as SB 5204, is complete and comprehensive and could enable a transition to single payer starting in 2023.

In her letter to the Leader on March 3, Gail Chatfield summarized the plan’s vastly expanded coverage for all residents, free of deductibles and co-pays, reducing the cost of healthcare to nearly everyone.

But how will we pay for it? We’ll do it with progressively applied payroll taxes and premiums, costing far less than what most of us currently pay under our profit-based healthcare system. That savings, plus greater administrative efficiency, are projected to save $9 billion statewide. To learn more about the Whole Washington Health Trust, visit wholewashington.org.

Lori Bernstein
PORT TOWNSEND

Comments

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Justin Hale

Who pays the payroll tax?

Saturday, March 13
Judy D'Amore

I'm responding to Justin Hale's comment on Lori Bernstein's letter from March 14. "Who pays the payroll tax?" Employers currently pay 18% of employee payroll to insurers for healthcare coverage for their employees. Under the Whole Washington plan there will be a $15,000 exemption per employee, after which employers will pay 10.5% of the gross pay of their employees. (If they're deducting 2% from employees' pay the total paid by employer and employee combined will still be 10.5%.) For more information visit wholewashington.org where the Information dropdown menu has several pages covering how it will be paid for.

Tuesday, March 16