Take closer look at Medicare Advantage
In her Jan. 11 letter, former State Rep. Margaret Doherty urges support for Medicare Advantage. And well she might. Medicare — traditional or Medicare Advantage — is the only viable health insurance option for most non-working seniors.
But Rep. Doherty overlooks the disadvantages of Medicare Advantage. Compared with traditional Medicare plans, Medicare Advantage plans spend more money on administration, provide less access and increase premium costs despite having healthier patients. No data show that Medical Advantage improves medical outcomes.
Bluntly put, Medicare Advantage plans cost the federal government (and Oregon taxpayers) more money but without better results than traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage deserves neither our support nor our protection.
Like Rep. Doherty, I share concerns about expanding health care access, reducing its cost and improving results. Because of these concerns, I joined the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care. Our task force recommendations will achieve these goals — “better care to more people for less money” — and for the entire state, not just seniors who can afford Medicare Advantage.
Many Oregon seniors cling to Medicare Advantage because they cannot imagine a better way to get health care. The Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care proposes a better way. Its recommendations, unlike Medicare Advantage, do deserve our support.
Dr. Samuel Metz, Southwest Portland
Assault weapon ban needs to be reinstated
I believe a national solution is required to stop the gun violence epidemic in America. Several states have enacted tougher gun laws and hopefully soon Oregon's Measure 114 that voters approved will get implemented soon.
The facts show that states who have stricter gun laws have less gun violence than states that don't. However, there is nothing to prevent a person who lives in a state with stricter gun laws to purchase a gun from another state with loose gun laws. Given this fact, logic shows that federal legislation is required for stricter gun laws nationwide and to reinstate a ban on assault weapons to limit mass carnage as we did in 1994.
We know what the solutions are but we lack the will to do what needs to be done. I worry that America seems to accept that senseless gun deaths must be the cost innocent victims must pay to support unfettered gun rights in America.
John Scherner, Tigard
Medicare Advantage was vital in my case
Eight years ago, my life changed. Due to my diving accident, I went from enjoying a thriving, able-bodied career in real estate to facing an uncertain future as a quadriplegic. It was a moment that altered my physical, mental and emotional well-being, and unfortunately, it can happen to anyone.
As a result of this permanent disability, I found myself as the rare 32 year old eligible for Medicare. I’ve always been a self-reliant person and while I had to overcome some setbacks, I’m proud that I have been able to return to my career. A major factor is restoring my livelihood is being able to count on the high quality, integrated and cost effective care, I receive through my Medicare Advantage health insurance plan.
Through this process, I’ve learned a lot about health care and have started getting involved in legislative advocacy. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with our new Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer to share my atypical, but unfortunately not rare, experience as a Medicare eligible quadriplegic. My health and future depends on continued coverage through Medicare Advantage and it was an honor to speak with Rep. Chavez-DeRemer. I was impressed with her interest in my case and knowledge of issues facing seniors and the disability community. I am excited for representation and look forward to working together to build support for vital programs like Medicare Advantage that allow people like me to thrive, work, and live as fully as possible.
James Lee, Colton
Art of reading lost in America
A note from a Portland regular): The wonderful thing about America is that almost everybody knows how to read. The sad thing is that people don’t know what to read.
We sharpen our minds today by reading text messages, business signage and advertising, office memos, social media posts, magazines with lots of pictures. Hurray for us!
But we don’t read newspapers to stay up with local and regional news anymore. That whole national pastime has been evaporating like dew on a hot summer day. And we don’t read books anymore either.
Remember the song that started, “Don’t know much about history...” That was a frank admission of our culture in the 1960s. Think it has gotten better? It has gotten much worse. Some few men might read a little sports history or military history. Women maybe read a little history with romance or fantasy or families in it. But real comprehensive history, with real breadth and depth? Uh uh. Not a thing in America, and it shows, especially when we have no idea what or who to vote for when the time comes.
And how about the handwriting on the wall? Do we really know how to read where things are headed? Not a clue. Not even interested.
Kimball Shinkoskey, Woods Cross, Utah
Still learning lessons of Martin Luther King
Dr. Martin Luther King saw personal liberties as keys to personal sovereignty and prosperity by saying, “When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. … So we’ve come to cash this check; a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
“This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning. ‘My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.”
Americans are individuals whose primary identity is in pre-existing, natural, intangible liberties, and only secondarily in ethnicity, gender, class, or race. Dr. King reminded us of the philosophical doctrines consulted for founding placed all on the same metaphysical plain from inception of the Republic and made us all brothers and sisters.
Nolan Nelson, Redmond
(Editor’s note: This letter was submitted before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.)