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Strike by County Nurses, Doctors

February 06, 1988

Because the people of Los Angeles have been pitted against one another in the recent health care strike, it is important to remember what this conflict is all about. This strike was not about more money for nurses and doctors; it's about how much health care is going to be provided for the poor. It's time to place the blame for the health care crisis where it belongs--on the shoulders of Gov. George Deukmejian.

Deukmejian wants to run for President. And he perceives his refusal to find ways to fund health care as savvy politics, i.e., establishing a record of fiscal conservatism. In fact, we could write his campaign speech for him right now: "Yes," he will say, "When I was governor we managed the state so well that we had to give the voters back some of their own money. Why, we didn't know what else to do with it!"

But he will not say that failure to provide prenatal care, a trauma network and enough doctors and nurses caused a statistically predictable number of deaths of mothers and babies, of emergency victims, of those forced to rely on the county system. And he won't say that the majority of those who died were black and Latino.

The governor is right to interpret his election as a mandate to play political hardball. The question is, how hard? We do not believe that the average voter wants the budget balanced by attacking the most defenseless people in our society, the politically powerless, the poor, the sick and dying, mothers and babies.

PATRICIA CABANISS, MD

MARK CABANISS

Los Angeles

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