Letters for the week of April 18, 2018

Support universal health care

Many Americans confuse free-market capitalism with freedom. How can we continue to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if we lack adequate health care? The changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) did improve health care outcomes slightly, but we still pay more for less, with millions of Americans still uninsured.
America is among the top 10 wealthiest countries in the world, yet we rank 37th in overall health system performance according to the World Health Organization.
How can this be?
It all boils down to the power of the moneyed interests to sway politicians and influence important legislation that affects every one of us. It goes without saying this dynamic will not change nationally for a long time.
In Washington state, we can make life better for our residents. We can’t wait for the federal government to get their act together on the issue of health care.
Learning from the mistakes of other states that couldn’t quite get to universal health care, Whole Washington’s proposal (people’s Initiative 1600) for Universal Healthcare for Washington State has a well-thought-out funding mechanism that will cover the costs for medical, dental, vision and behavioral health.
This plan will save Washington more than $9 billion per year in health care costs.
Washington businesses will become more competitive because the high cost of health care will drop precipitously with an 8.5 percent health security assessment on payroll that is much less than the average 18 percent employers pay now.
Unions/workers will also benefit by not having to spend so much time negotiating healthcare contributions from employers and selecting plans.
Coverage in this plan is comprehensive with no networks.
Endorsements have poured in from all over the state to support I-1600, Universal Healthcare for Washington State. If you see volunteers with petitions and you are a registered voter in Washington, please consider signing on to have this initiative placed on our ballot in November. Most volunteers have voter registration forms if you are eligible to vote here and want to sign.
To learn more about this initiative, go to:

—Elaine Hornal, Bellingham

A village responds to homelessness

There is incredible community activism helping to house the homeless in Whatcom County. It is led by an undaunted group of people who have staged protests like the tent city set up at the City Hall in December. These folks have arranged monthly homeless summits where the homeless can obtain much-needed clothing, supplies and a meal.
The meals at such events are provided by the Sikh community. There are work groups for projects like Safe Storage, creating a means for the homeless to keep their belongings safe.
The project called HomesNow has an office on Dupont Street where they are getting better organized. They are hosting a meeting for leaders of various community activist groups to meet and learn ways to work together.
The City of Bellingham and County Council are visiting tent and tiny home projects in Seattle and finally listening to the voices who have been asking for help. COB recently made strides in this assist by placing dumpsters and toileting facilities (porta potties) in four locations for the homeless. Handwashing stations are on the agenda. The city is hoping to expand safe parking long term.
More and more people are taking leadership in helping solve this crisis, making health and safety for the homeless a priority.
There is more need—a safe place for a more permanent tent city and a decent property for placement of tiny homes being built by a local builder at cost.
I hope the city and the county will continue to work with the tireless leaders of the HomesNow movement, step up to the plate to make Bellingham a model for others to follow.
A huge thank you to Jim, Jennifer, Amy, Carmen, Markis and all the others who have made such strides. The idea that “It takes a village” is proven by these folks.

—Ronna Loerch, Everson

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