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Survey questions can shape the results

Readers' Letters
by: Jaime Valdez, A recent survey stated that 60 percent of Oregonians support President Obama's health care proposals. One reader worries that the respect and admiration people have for the president might mislead them into thinking that he is selling us a cure.

Your article about the responses of 400 Oregonians to a recent survey illustrates how opinions can be shaped by the manner in which the questions are framed and results interpreted and reported (Oregon not as cranky as it was, Sept 17).

First of all, the large headline on Page 5A announces 'Kitzhaber has early lead in governor's race.' Of course he does, due to the name recognition that is boosted by this headline. I daresay few who said they support him could say why.

A sidebar tabulates the results of two of the questions on health care, indicating that a majority support or somewhat support President Obama's proposals for changes in the health care system (60 percent combined) without apparently knowing or understanding what's on the table. About 67 percent of respondents believe that the proposals would 'give anyone who is a citizen of the United States health care coverage.'

This is wishful thinking. What is being proposed is that all citizens be required to purchase health insurance. A public insurance option is teetering at the edge of the table, yet 54 percent of respondents believe that a government-run health care system is being proposed.

In public appearances, President Obama has said that some form of a single-payer health plan would be the best option if we did not already have a system that is inextricably tied to the health insurance industry.

I fear that our respect and admiration for this exceptional man misleads us into thinking that he is selling us a cure, when in fact it is a placebo (which will further enrich the health insurance industry).

Roger Noehren

Southeast Portland

Create competition, and cut the costs

Thank you so much for keeping the health care debate in the news (Public still wants health reform, Sept. 17). My concern is the media has been focused on the small percentage of outraged individuals against health care reform, when they should be focused on the things that matter in this debate - that we have to cut cost.

If we don't start cutting cost, it is going to bankrupt our health care system - not a public plan. This bill has good cost-cutting measures and we know a public plan is the quickest way to get those put in place, because insurance companies would have to compete with a public plan that enforces the cost-cutting measures.

It's not about putting a bureaucrat between you and your doctor, it's about creating competition and cutting cost.

Martin Brewer

Southeast Portland

Premiums outweigh lower co-pays

Thanks for making the discrimination against mental health public (Therapists protest rate reductions for mental health, Sept. 17).

Your article cites a (Regence BlueCross Blue Shield) representative as claiming that such discrimination and reduction in payments to mental health providers lowers the cost of health care insurance. A more complete report would also document the 20 percent to 40 percent increase across the board for Regence insurance. So, whatever savings are passed on to the consumers is not evident.

I would need to save more than $10 or $20 on a co-pay to my therapist to make up for the more than $2,500 hike in the cost of my Blue Cross premiums this year alone.

David Bice

Lake Oswego

Increases may be response to laws

Check your dictionary, Mr. Graves (assistant director of behavioral health at Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon). There's not a thing 'ironic' about community reaction to Regence's precipitous premium hikes, and simultaneous reduction in Provider reimbursement (Therapists protest rate reductions for mental health, Sept. 17).

Could you tell us, Mr. Graves, where you will invest the considerable dollars you will rake in with this 'cost reduction' formula of yours?

When your premium payers ask you to cut back on costs, some of us mean to reduce your administrative costs.

I work in mental health administration, and it is not the case that Regence is paying two to three times more than other similar-sized insurers. I am concerned that Regence's action is in response to the passage of recent mental health parity laws.

Francesca deCali

Southwest Portland

Can you compare humans to rodents?

There's a certain irony to your Oregon Health and Science University story on gender differences and pharmaceuticals (Different drugs for different sexes?, Sept. 10).

Drug testing on men isn't applicable to women, we're told, because men and women are too different. So it's back to the lab - to experiment on mice.

Mark Meadows

Northwest Portland

Nuclear, hydro are only clean sources

Robin Everett appears to not understand economics when she says renewable energy will create more jobs than coal (For clean energy, stop coal use, Sept. 10). Is that an admission that it will cost more? How else will those additional workers get paid?

But I am glad to see that the Sierra Club has finally come to recognize that we need to switch to more nuclear and hydro power. Nuclear and hydro power are the only clean, carbon-free energy sources we have to run our society - solar and wind are a delusion for practical energy.

Or does Robin Everett just want us to quit using energy altogether?

Jim Karlock

Northeast Portland

Spend money cleaning up coal

It would only be an environmental extremist who would focus on a relatively tiny existing coal power plant in America while ignoring the Chinese, who are opening a brand-new 800-megawatt dirty coal power plant every two days (For clean energy, stop coal use, Sept. 10).

We can clean up our existing Boardman power plant at a nominal cost to ratepayers, rather than develop new power-generating facilities elsewhere. Besides, we will need a huge amount of additional nighttime generating capacity in the years ahead as more and more Oregonians convert to plug-in electric cars and will need to recharge their batteries at night when solar and wind power typically are unavailable.

Geoffrey Davey

Southwest Portland