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Op-Ed: Let's Compromise To Support The National Parks


Rob Smith, NPCA's Pacific Northwest Region director.

There is a place to start coming together on the federal budget, and Sen. Patty Murray is well-suited to lead the way as chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee and a leader in the current, difficult budget negotiations. Shutting down the government — and our national parks — is simply not a reasonable choice.

In addition to disrupting long-planned vacations, relocating weddings, and spoiling other events, communities surrounding Olympic National Park lost nearly $4 million in visitor spending during the shutdown. Businesses surrounding Mount Rainier lost up to $1 million. But the shutdown was part of a long-term trend of broken budgeting harming national parks and threatening the visitor experience and the economic health of surrounding communities.

Our national parks offer an instructive lesson about why budget brinksmanship and the indiscriminate across-the-board sequester cuts demand a new approach. Sen. Murray is choosing the right fight in seeking a compromise that will end this damaging policy.

While the entrances to our national parks have been reopened, there are still “closed” signs on some campgrounds, visitor centers and historic structures and nearly 2,000 fewer rangers to help visitors due to sequestration. The ever-shrinking budget — down 13 percent since 2010 just to operate our national parks — is shortsighted and unsustainable.

Studies show that our national parks generate a $10 return for every $1 invested. National parks in Washington state alone support more than 3,800 jobs and produce upwards of $260 million in economic activity, according to 2011 reports.

It’s time to reinvest in our heritage. Nine in 10 voters — Republican, Democrat and Independent — do not want national park funding cut. Sen. Murray has reflected this bipartisan support with a budget that allows room for investing in national parks, which enjoy broad support, are economically important and are being harmed by the sequester.

Time will tell if the budget conferees also take this common ground into consideration and find the compromise necessary to end the damaging sequester.

Rob Smith is the Northwest regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association. This essay first appeared in The Olympian.


Well, the theory, I believe, is you increase benefits and decrease the cost by bringing 45 million uninsureds into the system.

As for self-insuring for all but catastrophic events, who will define those events or costs? What is catastrophic for someone at a poverty level income might not be for someone making $70,000, and what is catastrophic for someone making $70,000 might not be for someone making $500,000.

And what if you or your spouse had a pre-existing condition? Lose your job, lose your coverage under the old system.

As for whether the cost is reduced or not, here's a snippet from on that matter:

Plans sold to individuals can no longer charge more based on health status or gender, but they can vary premiums based on geography, age and tobacco use. A RAND study, published in August and sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, estimated there would be “no widespread trend toward sharply higher prices in the individual market,” in the words of the lead author. Rates would likely vary from state to state and based on individual circumstances. So Paul is wrong to make the sweeping claim that “everybody is going to pay more.”

Here's the rest of the factcheck piece:

Again, I'd suggest it's too early to call the ACA a disaster or a success. Beyond that question, I do believe there are savings to be had in the form of means testing.

Rick B., As for hacking the Obamacare website isn't that in the great American tradition of nonviolent direct action? It is the modern equivalent of a sit in or a strike isn't it?

And as for the whole Obamacare discussion. If I were a company that wanted to avoid the employer mandate I would study the tactics of an organization that is expert at figuring out a ways to evade laws requiring that employers provide benefits --the National Park Service.

Somehow I don't the the government will be as forgiving with private companies as they are with themselves when they do it.

Well, the theory, I believe, is you increase benefits and decrease the cost by bringing 45 million uninsureds into the system.

You bring 45 million insureds in, increase the minimum level of coverage and reduce the number of providers and you expect cost to go down? Are you familiar with the law of supply and demand?

who will define those events or costs

The person that is being insured of course. If I decide I don't need contraceptives or pregnacy care, or any other coverage, I decide not to have that coverage.

And what if you or your spouse had a pre-existing condition? Lose your job, lose your coverage under the old system.

Preexisting conditions is a legitmate issue. But it represents a small percentage of the overall insurance market. Why throw out the system serving 90% of the population to fix a problem effecting less than 10%. My solution for pre-exisiting is: if you never had insurance - tough, you brought it on yourself. If you had insurance and lost it through no fault of your own and then can't get insurance, your prior company should be required to continue coverage under the previous terms. Easy fix without the government taking over 20% of the economy.

As to cost - HHS studies are pure fiction. The reality is the cost of insurance is higher.

A little off subject of parks, but it was the Congress of the United States that passed the ACA, the President supported the legislation and signed the bill. In those sates that have embraced the ACA, the coverage and potential savings our significant. Like any program, it will take awhile for the kinks to be worked out. As far as the for profit health insurance industry is concerned, they are not in favor of the ACA for a very basic reason, it will cut into profits, and their dumping of policies on citizens is a real real stab in the back. Come January first, that will stop hopefully. I do not know the age of all those who are in a position to say they do not need comprehensive health insurance or their income group, but I can tell you that when you get into my age group you will be very glad that the President Obama administration took on the "for profit health care industry". And for those that think they do not need it, I hope you are right, but at some point accidents, disease, age, etc catch up to all of us. EC, I am surprised you are opposed to the ACA, it was a republican idea first implemented in Mass. by the former governor of that state, Mr. Mitt Romney. The compromise was that health care would be reformed, but instead of a single payer system (like medicare), the private sector would be allowed to participate. Perhaps that is the big mistake here.

the coverage and potential savings our significant.

Please show where that is the case (ex the subsidies).

are not in favor of the ACA for a very basic reason, it will cut into profits,

What dream world are you in? The insurance companies are one of the main proponents. It won't hurt their profits a bit as it forces people to get coverage for which they will never make claims.

it was a republican idea first implemented in Mass. by the former governor of that state, Mr. Mitt Romney.

I am against it because it is an economic disaster no matter who initially proposed it. And, you might note, that after experiencing it in Mass, Romney recognized how bad the idea was.

rmackie - again, you seem to have an amazing lack of understanding of the realities. Is that ignorance or just intentially mistating the facts to try to support your unsupportable position.

EC it is the way I see it, but I do get a big kick out of your responses. History will judge, but I do think you stand by your own perceptions of things, support the "Traveler" and I read your postings when I pull up the website.

EC it is the way I see it,

Even when the facts fly in your face.

you stand by your own perceptions of things,

No, I stand by facts and reality.

And I stand by my own facts and reality. Close to thirty years in healthcare, dealing with sick and injured people every day of it, death and healing, insured and uninsured. And hours after hours after hours through all of those years of dealing with insurance companies fighting for those corporations to authorize what their customers, my patients, need and had paid them to cover.

Your own facts and reality, as are mine, are through our own prisms of what we believe and have experienced. I spent 30 years healing the ill and you spent 30 years on Wall Street.

Today I could never stomach to believe what you have shown you believe - although I did, 30 years ago, before I developed a conscience. You will most likely never stomach what I believe in.

How about we get back to the parks.

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