Lifestyle

Health care enlightenment offered

Columnist Paul Krugman recently said that the whole world is in recession, but the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe.

“Along with losing their jobs, people will lose their health care,” Trudy Sundberg, a vice-chair of the Whidbey Island Democratic Club, said.

Sundberg is reaching out to local concerned citizens and proposed a big public discussion on national health care Sunday, Feb. 22.

Leading the discussion will be Bellingham resident Larry Kalb, a noted activist for health care reform. Kalb has focused his efforts on the U.S. health care system after his observations and experience dealing with health care in European nations.

“His presentation encapsulates the major players in our current system,” Sundberg said.

The topics will include “21st century demands for electronic medical records,” “Let’s talk about what really matters in health care,” and five key elements of a good health care plan, listed as: guaranteed, universal, continuous, comprehensive and your choice of doctor.

“If you are concerned that the United States ranks poorly among all developed countries in average length of life, mortality and cost, you surely must be concerned that our government has not been able to reform a health care system known around the world to be ‘broken,’” Sundberg said.

According to the annual “Pocket World in Figures,” the United States is ranked 40th in life expectancy and ties with Iraq for the highest annual death and infant mortality rate. The U.S., however, holds a solid lead in health spending, rising from 14.6 percent in 2006 to 15.2 percent in 2007.

Part of Kalb’s discussion will cover HR 676, a current bill in Congress that would create a single payer health care plan which, as proposed, would cover prescription drugs, mental health, dental services and long-term care.

The discussion Sunday will begin at 2 p.m., followed by a question and answer period for audience members.

Whidbey Island Democrat Dr. Marshall Goldberg invited a panel of health consultants who will answer questions at 3:30 p.m.

The event is sponsored by the Whidbey Island Democratic Club and will be held in Room 137 at Skagit Valley College’s Hayes Hall.

“The purpose is to enlighten voters to this issue,” Sundberg said.

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