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'Medical Costs: Out of Sight'

December 23, 1988

Your editorial correctly analyzes the continuing inflation in health costs in America and the steady increase in the number of people who have little or no access to care.

Many of these vulnerable people are mothers and young children. Since we know that $1 spent on prenatal and infant care saves us $3 in later health expense, it is clear that the situation can only worsen.

You also correctly observe that government programs have done better than the private sector in controlling costs, which is no great surprise. A bleeding person is in no position to negotiate with a doctor or hospital. If he is treated, but can't pay, the cost of his care is added to the bills of those who can.

You endorse Dr. William Roper's concern over medical costs. You even acknowledge that "the United States spends . . . more money per capita on health care than does any other nation . . . yet lags in such basic measures of effectiveness as infant mortality."

How can you possibly fail to mention what all those other nations (except South Africa) have a national health system?

What we need and must have is free, comprehensive, not-for-profit health care, accessible to all, nationally distributed, federally funded but responsible to the community.

It is time for all of us damaged by the present non-system--those shut out from care, employers facing ballooning health-insurance costs, doctors who resent being forced to base medical decisions on cost-benefit principles--to speak out.

DORIS DAWSON

Board Chairperson

Gray Panthers

Philadelphia

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