The leadership team for the Blaine/Birch Bay Community Toy Store would like to say a huge thank you to everyone in the community who had a part in making the toy store happen in 2019!
We had close to 200 people who gave their time and energy to volunteer in various capacities. Over 800 toys and almost 100 gift cards, in addition to cash donations, were collected at 35 different locations hosted by businesses, churches and other organizations. This was truly a community-wide effort that made a difference for 280 children from 117 families.
The parents were so grateful for the opportunity to be able to purchase gifts for their own children, and to have such a wide variety of high-quality gifts to choose from. I wish you could have seen the smiles on their faces as they walked out the door. Thank you for the outpouring of love and support for these families!
This year’s shopping proceeds, which totaled $3,607, will be given to the Wild Bird Charity’s Weekend Food Backpack program, the Bridge Community Hope Center (Birch Bay) Emergency Assistance Fund and the Whatcom Dream for Financial Literacy Classes in Blaine and Birch Bay. Through the work of these organizations, your donations and gifts of time will have an impact on families in the community throughout the year ahead. Thank you!
Laura Vogee, director
Blaine/Birch Bay Community Toy Store
The Affordable Care Act has had certain undeniable effects. It forced insurers to provide minimum coverage and coverage for pre-existing conditions, resulting in greatly increased costs. Young and healthy people had an incentive to stay out of the market instead of paying for expensive healthcare that they didn’t need. Too few people paying into the system resulted in skyrocketing premiums and deductibles. Healthcare entered a death spiral as insurers, losing money, dropped out of the exchange.
To learn what is wrong and how to fix it, I recommend reading a book called The Price We Pay by Dr. Marty Makary, MD.
From the book, here are two of many factors for rising healthcare costs. First, the need for transparent pricing. If you go to the hospital, you won’t know what it’s going to cost until they send you the bill, and they can charge whatever they want. (Be careful what you sign if you have to go to the emergency room.) Second, procedures and prescriptions are being recommended to patients that are unnecessary and even harmful. And there is much more.
Note: I don’t know Dr. Makary and I will receive nothing for recommending his book.
SB 5822, currently being considered by the Washington state senate, would lead to the implementation of a single-payer system; a Washington state version of Obamacare. Read the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Policy Committee report of February 12, 2019 for details. What has failed nationally will fail on a state level and for the same reasons (see Massachusetts). If the bill passes, it will be up to the taxpayers in Washington state to decide just how long and painful the process of failure here will have to be.
A consumer-centered, market-based system that rewards good health habits and incentivizes the provider with competitive opportunity is the most promising alternative. For more, search for The Strategy That Will Fix Health Care in the Harvard Business Review.
Open enrollment for health insurance came around again. Concern for those left out also meets the mind again. I have been mostly in favor of a one-payer system (e.g., Medicare For All) but I think the performance and possible pitfalls of our system should first be addressed.
We are all aware of the arbitrary, no-appeal schedule of payments it applies to doctors and others. You may appeal refusals but not their payment schedules. Doctors cannot appeal this either, and thus they refuse or do less for those on Medicare. This leads to the concern of a centralized system with such arbitrary powers controlled by the government. One need not be paranoid to remember how Nixon reportedly used the IRS to audit all of his enemies’ tax returns to see the real possibility of this as a new tool of oppression. How frightening to have your very life and health held hostage rather than merely taking your money.
We may need to exercise caution to protect people either way: by offering insurance at a reasonable cost, but keeping them free of arbitrary decisions that could harm them. Perhaps some sort of district with officials elected separately from the government, like some transit districts, might take away the fears many of us have.
Sharon L. Robinson