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Health Reform Proposals

August 15, 1994

Congress should defer acting on health care until after the congressional recess. This will allow time to read and understand the bills, and for the voters at home to express their views to their representatives. This matter is much too important to rush a decision without adequate consideration.

At present no one knows the details. No one knows how much it will cost to implement. No one knows where the money will come from. No one knows the effects on quality, access, or the economy. It has been said, "The devil is in the details." Until we know the details we cannot expect to make a rational decision.

Is it possible the supporters of Clinton-type plans hope one can be passed through Congress before the people find out how much it costs and how little they get?

WINSTON F. FOSTER

Arcadia

Hillary has a health plan that only Bill likes. Sen. Bob Dole has a health plan that only the Republicans like. Senate leader George Mitchell has a health plan that only the Democrats like. The insurance lobbyists have a health plan that only the insurance companies like. Dr. Kevorkian has a health plan only the morticians like. Nobody has a health plan I like . . . except maybe Canada.

WALT HOPMANS

Santa Barbara

Am I seeing double, or do Jesse Jackson (Column Left, Aug. 7) and Harvey Rosenfield (Commentary, July 29) come to the same answer to, "Why won't the American people get the health system they desire and deserve?": campaign contributions by special interests. The politically correct health-care "reform" package being considered now is just another child of the mother of all issues--our corrupt and corrupting system of financing elections.

It is time to take a stand for comprehensive campaign finance reform like the city of Long Beach did in June with Proposition M. How about a version of Proposition M for California and the nation!

DALE O'NEAL

Laguna Beach

A letter (July 28) attempts to put the blame for lack of action on Clinton's health-care plan on Dole, Dick Cheney and Republicans in general. The Democrats have total control of the House, they control the Senate and the White House. If Democrats want this botched attempt at controlling our lives they have the votes. They don't need a single Republican vote.

WILLIAM H. HUBER

Ventura

"Reform Has Been D.O.A. Since Day One" (Commentary, July 29) certainly hit home. We have been faithful dues-paying members of Kaiser-Permanente for 15 years, in the firm belief that we were providing responsibly for our health-care needs. What Kaiser didn't treat, we always believed, they would cover by referral. Last October, at her doctor's insistence, our daughter returned from college in need of emergency hospitalization. Desperate calls to Kaiser and frantic consultation with doctors there led us to understand that the treatment she needed was not provided at their facilities. Under acute pressure, we had her admitted to the appropriate clinic elsewhere.

Now, $100,000 in hospital bills later, Kaiser refuses to chip in a single penny of the costs. To pursue arbitration we face $20,000 in additional costs. Justice, it seems, is a luxury we can't afford.

When half of middle-class America has a story like ours, then perhaps we'll put our minds together to come up with a reasonable solution.

PETER CLOTHIER

ELLIE BLANKFORT CLOTHIER

Los Angeles

Lars Erik Nelson's Column Left ("The Deathbed Conversion of the AMA," July 24) incorrectly positioned the American Medical Assn. as being in favor of the Clinton health-system reform proposal. In addition, the headline didn't reflect the substance of the column and was misleading.

The AMA began its campaign for universal coverage more than four years ago. This month we repeated, not initiated, as Nelson implied, our support for universal health-care coverage.

The AMA believes that the proper approach to reforming the health system is a blending of employer mandates (for companies with more than 100 employees) and individual mandates with appropriate subsidies for low-income wage earners. Universal coverage should be phased in with a specific target date. We also have called for meaningful health-care liability reform and other cost-containment measures, like a reduction in the current system's administrative burden.

Readers should not infer from the article that the AMA is anti-managed care. Rather, we are opposed to "managed profits" taking precedence over quality patient care. There are many excellent managed-care programs in this country. Managed care, along with fee-for-service and other health insurance options, should be available to consumers.

JAMES S. TODD MD

Executive Vice President, AMA

Chicago

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