Yuse Resumes Advocacy Role For Older Set

Frank Yuse, retired high-school humanities teacher, civic activist, author, community visionary, indefatigable champion of seniors causes, is back in peak form.

Yuse, arguably the most energetic and outspoken advocate for Spokane’s older set, is the new head of the Seniors Legislative Coalition of Eastern Washington.

The job and the man could hardly be a better match. Yuse is everywhere. Involved in everything.

That’s a pretty fair description of the Seniors Legislative Coalition, too. It tackles an awesome array of issues.

Unlike the American Association of Retired Persons, whose bylaws prohibit taking sides on issues that become politicized along parties lines, the Seniors Legislative Coalition doesn’t hesitate to name names and lay blame.

Several months ago, Yuse was unceremoniously dumped as Eastern Washington coordinator of voter education for the AARP. Although officials of the nation’s largest lobby never acknowledged it, insiders here understood that Yuse’s undoing was his unwillingness to pull punches where partisan politics is concerned, as AARP demands.

That should be no problem in Yuse’s new post. The Seniors Legislative Coalition of Eastern Washington is local, not for profit, and plays by it own rules.

It functions like a board or information clearing house on seniors issues. Members represent a dozen Spokane-based seniors organizations, some of them coalitions as well, whose constituents are scattered across much of Eastern Washington.

“It’s a very active group,” Yuse says. “Maybe we try to do too much.”

The coalition’s agenda is daunting.

For example, unpaid senior lobbyists are trying to persuade Gov. Gary Locke to reverse himself and not allow Dawn Mining to haul low-level nuclear wastes through Spokane to a new burial site.

The volunteers staved off legislation that would have made senior drivers take tests not required of other age groups.

They are fighting to establish property rights in retirement condominium complexes where buyers have no say in how the place is run by managers answerable only to corporate bosses.

And the citizen lobbyists are hip deep in health care issues.

They lost a legislative battle this session to enact a “Health Care Bill of Rights” which would have held managed care organizations to higher standards.

Their biggest challenge could be a citizens’ initiative that is near and dear to the coalition’s new president. It would provide universal health care under a single payer system of coverage for all.

In one of his many capacities, Yuse also serves as liaison between the Single Payer Coalition of Eastern Washington, based in Spokane, and Washington State Health Care NOW, based in Seattle.

“I’ve been working with Single Payers a couple of years,” says Yuse. “We are writing the ballot title right now. My job is to line up area opinion leaders, especially in the health care industry, and financial support to help us make this a successful effort,” said Yuse.

Many physicians are supportive, Yuse says. Ironically, union leaders are not, fearing that universal coverage could erode their relevance.

Yuse charges that politicians with ties to the insurance industry are making it difficult for small businesses to buy into coverage for everyone. “We are working on a formula for subsidizing little business owners so they can afford to participate,” he says. “There would have to be a trust fund set up. All of us would pay - employees and employers.

“It’s high time we eliminate the insurance companies as middlemen who add nothing to health care but only rip off the consumer for obscene profits,” says Yuse. “Studies show 20 to 30 percent of the cost of delivering health care is administrative overhead and shareholder profits.”

For all its faults, Medicare - a federal single payer system - is vastly more cost efficient, Yuse says, with “overhead of just 2 percent.”

But don’t look for the single payer initiative on this fall’s ballot. “We still have a lot of work to do,” says Yuse. “We’re looking at the year 2000.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes on retirement issues each Sunday. He can be reached with ideas for future columns at 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes on retirement issues each Sunday. He can be reached with ideas for future columns at 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

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