Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: health care


Share the cost of health care premiums

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

It took the worst recession since the Great Depression to force the issue, but Pierce County may finally do the unthinkable: require workers to share the cost of their own health insurance.

County Executive Pat McCarthy’s 2010 spending plan is a brutal budget for brutal times. But one of the economies it proposes has long been routine in the rest of the world: splitting the cost of premiums with county employees.

Assuming it’s adopted, this would soften the sweeping budget cuts McCarthy is proposing by a cool $3 million.

It’s amazing that any group of employees is getting free coverage these days. Predictably, this group belongs to the public sector. Private employers, facing market discipline, can’t afford such munificence. The most generous private coverage is generally found within large companies – and they require that employees foot at least a quarter of the bill, on average.

Fully paid premiums break budgets in a couple ways.

Up front, they cost the employer a fortune. According to McCarthy, Pierce County spends an average of $1,000 a month on each worker’s health insurance. Dependents are included regardless of whether they qualify for some other insurance plan. Superior court judges have enjoyed double coverage, from both the county and state.
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Get your flu shots, health care workers

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition

Health care providers are urging their patients to get flu shots this fall – against the regular seasonal flu and the new swine flu virus.

Uh . . . physicians, heal thyself.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fewer than half of health care workers got a flu shot last year. That might fly during a normal flu season, but the 2009-2010 season is shaping up to be anything but normal.

The nation’s health care delivery system may be taxed far more than usual due to the new swine flu virus (H1N1). It will need its providers healthy and on the job, not out sick with the flu or, worse, at work with the flu and spreading it to vulnerable patients.

State health officials should give serious consideration to requiring health workers to be immunized against both types of flu – a step New York has already taken. At this point, it’s still voluntary in Washington state.

The swine flu virus is already here – witness the big outbreak at Washington State University. But it will be five or six weeks before immunizations are available for high-risk populations – pregnant women; young people 6 months to 24 years old; caregivers of infants under 6 months; health and emergency medical workers; and adults 25-64 with pre-existing lung or heart problems, or compromised immune conditions. Read more »


Health reform must tackle Medicare costs

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.
Congress returns this week from a summer of discontent to stare down health care legislation – including Medicare reform – once again.

Fresh from their battering back home, Democrats will be trying to figure out how to salvage health care reform without setting themselves up for a fall in next year’s mid-term elections. President Obama is expected to lay out his must-haves in a Wednesday address to Congress that will likely be two parts “go get it done” and one part “I’m in this with you.”

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Friday’s editorials: Medicare reform, French burqas

Washington’s congressional delegation has long railed against Medicare reimbursement rates that penalize this state for having an efficient health care system. They shouldn’t squander the opportunity to finally do something about them in the health care legislation before Congress.
UPDATE: We’re holding this editorial and running one about the court ruling on the Kent teacher strike instead.

The controversy gripping France – whether or not to ban the burqa worn by some conservative Muslim women – has nothing to do with couture and everything to do with the tricky dilemma of balancing religious rights in a secular society.


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