Health insurance issues on agenda

Finding a way to provide health insurance for people who don’t have it has been a problem many have tried to solve.

In Washington, an estimated 778,000 people don’t have health insurance. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the number nationally is 45 million.

Today, the League of Women Voters will hold a public forum on the question of how to provide health insurance for those who don’t have it. The event starts at 1:30 p.m. at the Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave. in Everett

It will include a panel of health care specialists, including Dr. John Geyman, professor emeritus of family practice at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Don Howard, chairman of CellNetix Pathology &Laboratories in Seattle, and Kathleen O’Connor, founder of CodeBlueNow!, a national nonprofit health care reform organization.

There’s more consensus among independents, Republicans and Democrats on the issue than commonly thought, O’Connor said.

A poll conducted in Washington late last year by the Gilmore Research Group to survey opinions on health insurance topics, she said.

Among its findings: People want information on their health care treatment options, they don’t want the government running health care and want to keep their employer-based health plans, O’Connor said.

“It’s really clear from our research that people think it’s important to cover everybody. Not only is this morally the right thing to do, but it’s expensive if we don’t do it,” she said.

The League of Women Voters decided to schedule the forum to try to give people a broad picture of the issues affecting health insurance issues, said Michelle Valentine, who helped organize the forum.

These include the costs of health care, its availability and comparisons of what other states, and other countries, are doing to provide health care.

“There is an overwhelming belief that health care is not a privilege, it’s a right,” Valentine said.

Geyman, the emeritus UW professor, agreed. “This really is not a partisan issue,” he said. “It’s a human issue, a moral, economic and social issue.

“It involves everyone,” he added. “It actually challenges our political process.”

Reporter Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or

Free forum

The League of Women Voters of Snohomish County is hosting a free public forum today on the topic of health care coverage. Panelists include health care specialists, including Dr. John Geyman, professor emeritus of family practice at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The event is from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave. in Everett.

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