Universal Healthcare for Washington State

(Letter-to-The-Editor) Watch for petitions for I-1600 — Universal Healthcare for Washington State.  The measure would provide a comprehensive non-profit program to pay for healthcare for all Washington residents.  “Instead of our current system of high premiums, payroll taxes, co-pays, deductibles and out of network fees, everyone will be covered by the Whole Washington Trust.

Imagine no profit margin based denials, lawyers to fight for implementation of policies, actuaries dividing citizens into acceptable risk pools, premium paid dividends for Wall Street investors, and charge master lists that require negotiation for coverage of hospital procedures.

Did you know Toronto General Hospital has only TWO insurance processors?  Most Washington hospitals have one per bed!  We need to have a conversation of how to make Universal care work! With our large medical infrastructure already in place, I 1600 would save Washington billions of dollars to add to our economy and education– long term benefits for short term adjustments.

If Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon can consider a Universal plan for their employees, why cannot the State of  Washington do so as well for our population?

Donna Starr

Now Republicans want to shut down Congress and head home?

I just received an email from Bernie.

The wealthy and powerful in this country have never had it so good.

While the very rich get richer and the middle class shrinks, the Republican majority has passed a deeply unpopular tax bill that would make income and wealth inequality much worse. This legislation, at the end of ten years, would provide 83 percent of the tax benefits to the top 1 percent and the largest corporations. Incredibly, 60 percent of the benefits would go to the top 1/10th of one percent. Meanwhile, by 2027, taxes on 92 million middle class households would increase. Further, 13 million people will lose their health insurance and premiums on the individual market will increase by 10 percent.

Having passed this horrific legislation, the Republican leadership now wants to shut down Congress and head home for the Christmas break.

Well, I respectfully disagree.

Maybe, just maybe, before Congress adjourns for the holidays they should pay attention to the needs of the working families of our country and not just the billionaire class.

Maybe, just maybe, before Congress goes home they might want to address the incredible anxiety that some 800,000 Dreamers are facing who are on the verge of losing their legal status, and face the possibility of deportation. Can you imagine being 20 years old, having spent virtually your entire life in the United States, and now worrying about being forced out of the only country you have ever known because of Trump’s incredibly ugly decision to repeal DACA? Despicable.

Congress must act NOW to protect the Dreamers.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Health Centers, whose funding expired on September 30, must be reauthorized and fully funded. Before Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan shut down Congress for the holiday season tens of millions of Americans and their kids must be guaranteed that they will not be thrown off of the health insurance they currently have.

Congress must act NOW to protect health care for children and working families.

If Congress does not act now, 1.5 million workers and retirees in multi-employer pension plans could lose the pensions they were promised by up to 60 percent. People who have worked their entire lives for guaranteed pensions should not be forced to live in poverty because Congress broke the promise it made to them.

Congress must act NOW to protect the earned pensions of 1.5 million American workers.

While members of Congress return home for holiday celebrations, many people in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands will not be able to turn on their Christmas lights because they continue to have no electricity as a result of the devastation caused by the recent hurricanes. Congress must pass significant disaster relief to help the people of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Texas and Florida.

Congress must act NOW to provide financial disaster assistance to those communities hit hard by recent natural disasters.

Sisters and brothers: Our message is simple. Congress cannot simply close shop, go home and leave millions of working people in desperate anxiety.

Please send a message to Speaker Ryan and Senate Leader McConnell. Sign my petition telling them don’t shut down Congress for the holidays until you address the pressing needs of the American people. Don’t give tax breaks to billionaires while ignoring the suffering of working families.

Thank you for making your voice heard. The struggle continues.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders


(Letter-to-the-editor) We all know the story of Pinocchio and how his nose grew when he told a lie. Wouldn’t it be great if that would happen to members of Congress every time they lied? Cathy McMorris Rodgers would seek a nose reduction immediately.

Her strategy to climb the political ladder is to spin the truth, or simply not tell it. On the issue of children, she voted to give huge subsidies to the farming industry but voted to cut 8.6 billion from food stamps. Her spin, “By making common-sense reforms…savings are reached without removing anyone from the SNAP program.” There goes her nose.

Cathy’s nose grows when she talks about women. She says she’s for women, then votes against equal pay, against protecting all women from violence, against healthcare and against a minimum wage. There grows her nose.

Concerning healthcare she voted 54 times to prevent healthcare, wants to make Medicare a voucher program and Medicaid a block grant, yet sends out glossy fliers touting she “is fighting to protect Seniors’ healthcare from cutbacks.”  Her nose just continues to grow and grow.

Ms. Patricia Bates

Clarkston, WA

Valley Hospital Spokane Valley

Photo credit to Harvey Brown

Finally, the Tennessee-based Community Health Systems who run Deaconess Hospital and Valley Hospital in the Spokane area have agreed to a bargaining date with employees.  On Friday, March 21, nurses and other medical workers from Deaconess and Valley Hospitals represented by SEIU local will be negotiating with management over workplace issues.  Staffing levels and patients care at Valley and Deaconess Hospitals will be front and center to the discussions.

Nurses and other medical workers await a bargaining date for long-awaited contracts with the Deaconess Hospital, Spokane, Wa. and Valley Hospital, Spokane Valley, Wa. Their key demand for more staffing to improve patient health and safety goes unanswered by the hospitals’ for-profit owner Community Health Systems Inc. Read the rest of this entry

Valley Hospital, Spokane Valley, WA

Photo credit to Harvey Brown

Our allies at SEIU local 1199 NW are still in dispute with the owners of Deaconess Hospital, Spokane, WA, and Valley Hospital, Spokane Valley, WA over the quality of patient care.  Community Health Systems Inc., from Franklin, Tennessee, owns both as part of a national chain of hospitals.  They have so far refused to meet the demands of their nurses and medical staff to increase staffing levels to better protect the health of patients. Kevin Graman, retired reporter from the Spokesman Review, wrote a great article on this dispute between labor and Deaconess and Valley Hospital over at SpokaneWatch.net. 

Meanwhile, Service Employees International Union 1199NW, the union that represents nurses at Valley Hospital and technical and service employees at both Valley and Deaconess Hospitals, presses its efforts to convince the state Legislature to follow California’s lead and impose mandatory nurse-patient ratios in Washington hospitals.

Read the rest of this entry