News

Health care reform topic of forum

by MICHAEL DASHIELL
Sequim Gazette

More than a century ago, doctors carrying their medicine in a bag would treat patients at their homes and sometime fees would be bartered rather than paid.

 

“Now we need a facility and … there’s a very elaborate system to get money from a person to the doctor,” says Bertha Cooper, a retired health care administrator. “There’s more of a disconnect than ever.”

 

Reconnecting individuals to the health care system they depend on is just one of the topics covered in the first of four forums about health care put on by the Clallam County League of Women Voters, as they discuss meaningful health care reform with community members.

 

Slated for 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, at Peninsula College, the forum brings three medical professionals as guest speakers to the table to talk about services, costs and threats to the current health care system.

 

“Our goal is to inform and educate the public on the urgency of discussing health care reform,” says Ruth Marcus, publicity spokesman for the league.

 

Cooper says the forum will include individual stories to highlight how local services are threatened.

 

“It would make a difference if people realized, ‘I could lose my doctor,’” Cooper says.

 

Guest speakers include:
• Eric Lewis, CEO of Olympic Medical Center
Lewis plans to discuss the health care system and explain why local services are threatened without meaningful reform.
• Frederick Chen, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Chief of Family Medicine at Harborview Medical Center
Chen presents the national cost of health care and its impact on the economy of the U.S.
• Tom Locke, health officer for Clallam County and Jefferson County
Locke completes the program with a discussion of the outcomes of America’s national health that rank citizens’ longevity in 33rd place among other countries, a recent fall from 29th place.

A hot topic

The League of Women Voters has an Access to Health Care committee. When Cooper joined the league a little less than a year ago, she aimed to bring systemic health care problems to the community forefront.

 

In September 2011, the league sponsored a forum about the Affordable Care Act that Cooper moderated.

“I was quite impressed; we estimated 100 people came,” Cooper says, noting the variety of attendees there: retirees and working citizens, both men and women.

 

This first-of-four forum, Cooper says, should give attendees an idea of how the U.S. treats health care nationally.

 

“We reward procedures rather than focus on any preventative medicines,” Cooper says.

 

Many people may be concerned about how health care will be paid for, Cooper says. “How do I pay for insurance? That’s a large part of it,” she says. “People with Medicare ... fear they will get less if more people are on Medicare. That’s part of what we want to address.”

 

Cooper says the league plans to record each forum.

Future forums
The remaining three forums will be held in June, July and August. Presentations will include the moral and ethical issues raised by limiting access; the health care market and its importance to the economy and the health of the nation; and a discussion of options for broad reform.

 

 

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