Support end-of-life options

To the editor,

Please support our petition drive to get the Colorado End of Life Options Act on the ballot this November. This initiative, modeled after Oregon’s 1997 “Death With Dignity” law, would amend the Colorado statutes to allow individuals who are suffering an incurable illness and who have less than six months to live to ask their physician for medication they can use to end their life. There are many safeguards included to prevent misuse. No one is asked to do anything against his or her personal beliefs.

There will be a training session for those who would like to volunteer as petition circulators. Please contact Juanita Ainsley at if you would like to attend this session. Or contact to sign the petition or request more information about the act.

Please help us get on the ballot this fall.

– Patrick Lyon, Durango

A new outlook on hepatitis C

To the editor,

Here at Liver Health Connection, we educate patients, providers and the general public about diseases affecting the liver and provide advocacy, resources and support. Two diseases of particular concern to us are hepatitis C, a life-threatening chronic disease that affects an estimated 3.2 million Americans, including about 60,000 people in Colorado, and liver cancer, the sixth leading cause of cancer in the U.S. 

The Baby Boomer generation, those born between?? 1945-65, are most likely to be diagnosed with hepatitis C. It is particularly important for people in this age group to get tested for this disease because their health is being compromised without their knowledge – hence, the “silent epidemic” name. Hepatitis C can often be asymptomatic, and many patients do not realize that they carry the virus until it has done significant damage to the liver.  

Until recently, the treatment for hepatitis C was an 11-month round of medication that caused patients to feel sick and even then, had a low success rate. However, thanks to years of pharmaceutical research, new treatments have few side effects and can cure over 90 percent of patients in a matter of weeks.  

However, some insurance companies and Colorado Medicaid are restricting access to these medicines. They argue that hepatitis C is a “chronic disease,” so all patients don’t need to be treated immediately. They are limiting insurance coverage to only the sickest patients, while the rest of the hepatitis C community waits around until they are sick enough to be treated. 

If left untreated, the disease can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, which are much more difficult and expensive to treat than the virus itself. Every year, approximately 19,000 Americans die from liver cancer or chronic liver disease associated with viral hepatitis. Likewise, from 2008-12, liver cancer incidence increased an average of 2.3 percent per year, and the death rate from liver cancer also has increased. 

These new hepatitis C treatments give patients hope for a healthy life and the chance to avoid much more expensive, painful and difficult procedures and also reduce the likelihood of liver cancer. We must ensure that patients have access to these treatments and continue to maintain an innovation-friendly marketplace, securing cures for tomorrow.  

Disease progression is not linear, that is, one person may get sicker while another does not. “Wait and see” is not an appropriate response when it’s not clear who will get worse during the waiting period.  Doctors – not the insurance industry – should be making the decisions for a patient’s health care.

– Nancy Steinfurth, executive director, Liver Health Connection


As a boy he read Will James.
He used to say that memory
was a kind of silence,
and that seeking fortunes
was the straightest path to hell.
He warned me
that when I got older,
and if I wasn’t wary
or careful,
I could end up shipwrecked
on the prairie of my dreams.
I can still hear
the quick whistle
as his remuda swam
through the salt brush and sage,
down the slope,
gaining momentum,
a slow thunderous cloud.
They headed south like some flotilla,
into the arroyo creating a dusty swirl.
I could barely see him,
hands folded over the horn,
rocking in the saddle
like some old sea captain,
the brim pushed up and bent,
his unique signature,
and again, that sharp whistle,
through the dust devil,
and “Ole Socks,” the heeler responding.
Sweat trailed sinew,
they slowly faded
over the edge of the day
and into the shadows
of another time. 

– Burt Baldwin, Ignacio  

No aircraft for Iran

To the editor,

Boeing Co. recently cut a deal with Iran Air to sell it 100 Boeing 737s and 777s worth about $25 billion, which is a nice contract for Boeing and its employees.

Unfortunately, Iran Air has used passenger and cargo planes to transport military equipment to Syria and other Middle East countries, and there is nothing to prevent them from continuing this practice. Some of the military shipments included materials for advanced weapons, and rockets and missiles. Furthermore, it is possible these planes could be used to move troops and could possibly be converted to bombers

The U.S. could revoke the license to sell the aircraft if Iran violates the agreement, but Iran would have control of the previously delivered aircraft at that time.

Congress should not approve this contract. If it is approved, delivery of the aircraft should be stretched out over an extended number of years. Additionally, we should install back door disabling software in each aircraft which we can energize at our discretion.

– Donald Moskowitz, Londonderry, N.H.