The Editor

August 25, 2009

By Contributor

Highlands hospital

Overlake’s fight with Swedish illustrates the greed in the health care industry

It was incredibly upsetting to learn that Overlake Medical Center is continuing to fight Swedish Medical Center’s plans to build a hospital in the Issaquah Highlands by protesting Swedish’s certificate of need. Overlake’s actions over the years in fighting this hospital has been a waste of money, time and a denial of accessible hospital services to the citizens of Issaquah, Sammamish and the surrounding communities.Overlake’s behavior provides a perfect illustration of how the greed of certain segments of the health care community raises health care costs without improving the quality of care.

Shelly Hawkins

Issaquah


Health care

Personal experience re-enforced the need for an overhaul to the system

My wife had an unexpected artery dissection that racked up bills totaling more than $222,000. Thankfully, we have insurance. Without it we would be financially devastated.

I support President Obama’s efforts to reform our health care system so that this sort of devastation can be avoided for all Americans.

Hank Thomas

Issaquah


Higher education

Reaching the goal of increased graduates will take more public support

The 2009 Legislature dealt with our state’s fiscal crisis in a way that sought to avoid lasting harm to public higher education. However, a combination of deep budget cuts and steep tuition increases has led some to speculate we have crossed an important divide.

This biennium, four of our six baccalaureate institutions will receive more than 50 percent of their operating revenue from tuition and fees. In 2007-09, state support for these institutions averaged 64 percent of operating revenue.

Have we started down the path to a privatized funding model for our public higher education institutions? We hope not. We need a serious discussion about the future of higher education and a reaffirmation of why it is a solid and necessary public investment.

Broad and affordable college access enables societies to compete in our increasingly complex and integrated world. Many states and nations are making the investment to raise education levels among their citizens. But Washington is failing to meet this challenge. Rather, we’re importing people with degrees to fill our best jobs. We need to do better.

The state’s master plan for higher education calls for a 40 percent annual increase in degree and certificate attainment by 2018. We believe this goal is attainable, but we recognize much work will be needed.

A new system design plan authorized by the Legislature — the first in 30 years — will provide rational rules for growth to help expand higher education access to the communities and populations that need it most.

Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines of this important discussion. We need advocates who can explain the importance of higher education to all of the people of the state.

Ann Daley, executive director

Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board

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