The date for the League of Women Voters health care luncheon at
Silverdale Beach Hotel was set a couple of months ago.
At the time we had no idea whether President Obama’s health care reform bill would be passed, would be dead or would still be under debate. As it turned out, our discussion on health care came on Tuesday, March 23, the same day that Obama signed the historic legislation into law.
LWV has long supported health care reform and encouraged its members to express their support for the bill to their Congress members.
Presenting their views of health care reform at the luncheon were Scott Bosch, CEO of Harrison Medical Center, and Barb Malich, CEO of Peninsula Community Health Services.
Bosch said he was glad the health care reform bill passed but said he saw many problems remaining.
“It’s all about the money,” he said. The Medicare Trust Fund is on the decline at the same time as 350 people become eligible for Medicare every hour.
With so many new people coming into the health care system, he also wondered how the medical field would gear up to serve them.
He said the average age of nurses at Harrison is 50, and that medical and nursing schools are not training enough new providers.
Malich said she had been celebrating the passage of the bill and was filled with both “euphoria and uncertainty.”
Her clientele at the community services clinic in Bremerton consists mostly of people who do not now have insurance. Nearly 21,000 people were served last year.
She agreed with Bosch that access to health insurance does not always equate to access to health care, but said the new law will provide scholarships to those who want to pursue a career in medicine and will also help with repayment of student loans for health care professionals.
She deplored the “loss of civility” during the health care debate and urged the League to continue its work of brining people together for informed discussions.
“Don’t be afraid to engage because it’s gotten ugly out there,” she said. “We need your engagement. We need your commitment.”
Next month the League shifts its focus to education, specifically the underfunding of schools in our state. A public meeting is planned for 7-9 p.m. April 20 at Central Kitsap High School. Speakers will be Isabel Munoz-Colon, OSPI budget analyst, and Tom Ahearne, lawyer for the education funding lawsuit.
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