Letter to the Editor: Thomas Brooks

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Dear Editor,

The April 6 editorial by Sally C. Pipes employed a worn out scare tactic to dissuade public interest in broadening affordable access to healthcare. While it was disclosed that Pipes is CEO of Pacific Research Institute, a California-based free-market think tank, my Google search revealed more. An article in Public Forum in 2012 cited investigative work published in Mother Jones that discussed her extraordinary spending of $ 1 million (¼ of the institute’s annual budget) to employ a public relations firm to write books, papers, and articles in her name. Mother Jones also mentioned she holds no known academic credentials that are customary for a prominent member of a “think tank.”

So, the editorial published in our little hometown newspaper was not submitted by a neighbor down the street but is instead part of a massive, well-funded, propaganda machine that places messages (in a coordinated fashion) in media of all sorts – local, regional, and national. Why? Money! As of August 2017, “Combined, the nation’s top six health insurers reported $6 billion in adjusted profits for the second quarter…far outpacing the overall S&P 500 health care sector’s growth….” (www.cnbc.com/2017/08/05/top-health-insurers-profit-surge-29-percent-to-6-billion-dollars.html) Yes, you read that correctly…profits for one quarter!

The scare-tactic story of a single-payer healthcare system being overwhelmed due to a national flu crisis misplaces blame on the source of funding rather than disease. To prevent and treat disease we needed “universal” access, not limited access only for those who can afford it. Further, Pipes fails to mention the multitudes of patients who wait for hours and hours to receive emergency care in our for-profit, market-based system.

Speaking of funding a healthcare system, according to an April 2017 report, annual salaries of top paid CEOs in the “market-based” business of health insurance were paid: $22 million, $19.7 million, $18.7 million, $17.8 million, $16.5 million, $15.3 million, $10 million, and the last place winner was paid a paltry $9.3 million. (www.fiercehealthcare.com/payer/health-insurance-ceo-pay-tops-out-at-22m-2016)

Perhaps Sally Pipes can afford to chip-in on these salaries but most folks I know struggle to pay their insurance premium to these “for-profit” companies. While the investor class and big corporations are poised to reap the benefits of the recent tax cuts, the rest of us remain subjugated by their “free market.”

By-the-way, whatever happened to Obama’s idea of a not-for-profit, co-op insurance company? I supposed the lobbyists and “research institutes” worked to make that idea disappear.

Readers should consider Pipes’ position as part of a much larger agenda to privatize Medicare, U.S. Post Office, Veterans Administration, Dept. of Defense, Dept. of Education and much more – this, under the banner of free-market capitalism (read: transfer of taxpayer monies to the wealthy). Remember, “free” is not necessarily “fair” and “access” to healthcare is not necessarily “affordable.”

Thomas Brooks

Tacoma, WA

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