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Medicare Surtax

December 22, 1988

Your editorial gives rise to many arguments as to why this is a good time to not only tinker with the so-called expansion of Medicare but to overhaul the system and replace it with one that will cover not only seniors but also the 38 million who have no health insurance.

Canada, Great Britain, Germany and Sweden are able to afford this. Why not the United States? I would hazard the guess that the sum of the current costs of Medicare plus the total of all the insurance premiums paid for health care plus a small income-tax surcharge would be adequate. The health-care business is overloaded with bureaucracies that could be eliminated if we had universal health care.

With respect to the "balanced and promising extension of Medicare" as you describe it, I believe you have overlooked the fact that the majority of those whose income taxes will be increased, including the majority of AARP members, will get very little benefit from the program. If the program included custodial nursing-home care, that would be a different matter.

I agree with your view that the "priority for Congress is to address the other great gaps in health care--notably the lack of health insurance for millions of citizens and the need for coverage for long-term care at home and in nursing facilities." Let's do it now and in the process get rid of this empty bill that is of very little benefit to those who pay for it.

LOUIS F. SCHROPP

Glendale

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