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America's Health-Care System Needs Fixing, but Aping Canada Will Make Things Worse

October 07, 1990

Leslie Berkman's story, "U.S. Hospitals Open Doors to Canada's Addicts" (Sept. 23), serves as a preview to all who would like to see our country adopt a similar system of socialized medicine. Except that, unlike the present-day Canadians, we shall have nowhere else to go!

Berkman should point out that the three- to four-month wait is not confined to drug addiction treatment. Canadians needing a coronary bypass, and likely other life-saving procedures, face a similar fate. Many, in fact, vote with their feet by flocking across the border for medical care.

Our health-care delivery system is by no means perfect. We do need some sort of coverage that provides basic health care for all. This might be financed partly by employees and partly by employers. We should also force businesses dealing with products that constitute significant health hazards to bear the consequences for their actions.

Why shouldn't we levy a health tax on tobacco, alcohol and polluters to help pay for some of the health problems they have created?

While the federal government's tilt toward a health maintenance organization type of system is ill-advised, some sort of controls on escalating costs should be considered.

Coverage for extraordinary medical procedures, for example, may require a large deductible and extra premiums by employees. The revised schedule for medical reimbursement by Medicare may be a step in the right direction but will require careful evaluation before it is universally applied.

JOHN T. CHIU, M.D.

Corona del Mar

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