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Catastrophic Illness Coverage

February 26, 1987

Regarding the President's endorsement of the proposal of Dr. Otis R. Bowen, secretary of health and human services, to implement catastrophic illness coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, it should be noted that said coverage will affect only a minuscule number of patients--only those who are hospital-confined more than 60 days. Those in nursing homes or house-bound will not be covered.

Reagan's concern to "bring peace of mind to 30 million Americans" is to be applauded, but his sincerity is suspect in view of the Administration's track record of cutting benefits and increasing premiums since 1981 when he took office. At that time, we were paying $11 a month for the Part B premium. Was he concerned about our "peace of mind" when the Administration raised our premium to $17.90 for this year, and scheduled to go up another 25% in 1988 when it will be $22.30--double what it was in 1981?

In 1981 the hospital deductible was $204. Was Reagan concerned about our "peace of mind" when raises were made every year and we are obliged to pay $520 this year--an increase of 155%? Additionally, many hospital medical services that were formerly covered 100% by Part A have now been shifted to Part B, obligating Medicare patients to pay more out-of-pocket expenses.

Was Reagan concerned about our "peace of mind" when just last month he proposed cuts in Medicare of $4.60 billion in fiscal year 1988 and $25.6 billion over the next five years?

If the President is genuinely concerned about "the peace of mind of 30 million Americans" he should be promoting a National Health Service Plan, such as all other industrialized nations have, which would provide comprehensive and quality medical care at minimal cost for all Americans, including the 45 million who have no health insurance or are under-insured.

CARL M. LEVIN

Los Angeles

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