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A Poor Remedy

Sat., Oct. 18, 1997

Dealing with a managed health care company, even on such mundane details as prescription refills and physician referrals, can be like struggling through a swarm of Spokane gnats on a warm October afternoon.

Health insurance companies hide behind annoying clouds of illogical restrictions and paperwork snafus. The framers of Initiative 673 hope you’ll bring a sense of annoyance to the voting booth on Nov. 4. But here’s why you should set aside whatever bugs you about managed health care and vote no on this initiative:

I-673 requires insurance companies to pay for the services of any willing provider, such as chiropractors and naturopaths. The cost of this mandate, according to the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, would average $195 for singles and $546 for families in 1998. Consumers, employers and the state can ill afford such a drastic increase.

The initiative could dismantle successful managed care companies such as Group Health Northwest. This nonprofit provider recently received a four-star rating from U.S. News & World Report, ranking 14th in a review of 223 health maintenance organizations nationwide. I-673 would stymie Group Health’s most effective cost-containment strategies.

Consumer concerns may seem to drive the initiative, but it is backed primarily by chiropractors and other alternative health care providers. Its real agenda is to increase supporters’ profits. Narrow interest groups shouldn’t be writing health insurance reform laws.

Irritated by managed care? Pause and think. Then vote no on I-673.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL, ENDORSEMENT - Our View CREDIT = Jamie Tobias Neely/For the editorial board

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