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Single-Payer Health Reform

August 26, 1994

In response to Prof. Adela de la Torre's column "On Health Care, a Matter of Trust," Commentary, Aug. 17:

As one of the 90 members of Congress co-sponsoring a single-payer health care reform proposal, I believe that single-payer deserves a more constructive assessment, and not such a doomsday description. When considering the whole picture, the single-payer system holds tremendous appeal to all Californians.

It's simple to understand and use. For the patient, there are no up-front premium costs or complicated formulas for co-payments, deductibles, or co-insurance. The single-payer system offers security since you can never lose your health insurance coverage, even if you lose or change your job. These are the critical benefits single-payer has to offer, and they also deserve full airing and deliberation.

De la Torre raises the issues of cost and higher taxes. The discussion mix should also recognize the savings. According to the General Accounting Office, the federal auditing agency, a single-payer system in the U.S. would save close to $100 billion each year--unmatched by any other health reform plan. How? By eliminating burdensome paperwork and other administrative expenses, we cut out the costly middleman.

It is also a myth that single-payer would lead to a huge costly bureaucracy. In fact, the Medicare program, which has been managed by the U.S. government for nearly 30 years, spends just 2% on administrative costs.

Do you trust what we have now? Seven million Californians do not have health insurance, and even those who do have coverage are only one serious illness away from financial ruin.

REP. XAVIER BECERRA

D-Los Angeles

*

The article on the single-payer state health reform initiative is an honest, fair-minded description of what is contained in Proposition 186. Would that its critics deal with it with the same honesty.

I have one regret about the article. I wish it had included the fact that if Proposition 186 is approved in November, all Californians would no longer pay any insurance premiums, deductibles and few co-payments; and that Medicare recipients would no longer pay monthly Medicare Part B premiums.

LEO NEWMAN

Laguna Hills

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