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Prop. 186 'Unknowns'

October 18, 1994

The Times, in its editorial urging a "no" vote for Proposition 186 (Oct. 9), supports its position by discussing "the unknown" and "the known."

As an "unknown," the editorial expresses concerns about the fact that this is an untested single-state program, unlike Canada where all provinces participate. In fact, Canada's single-payer system did begin in a single province, and, because of its overwhelming success, was eventually adopted in every province. The second "unknown" expressed was that the federal government would have to provide Medicare and Medicaid funding to the state to accomplish this. Although federal health care reform was not accomplished this year, the debate revealed that Congress would be quite willing to allow the states to use this funding in establishing their own programs.

The third "unknown" was that funding would be limited in lean economic years. Why shouldn't the health care sector be required to tighten its belt in those lean years, just as everyone else must? Quality care can be rendered without a fleet of luxury automobiles in every physician's garage.

As a "known," The Times criticizes the fact that this system would be headed by an elected health commissioner. We certainly expect our state to be led by an effective elected governor. We would expect any major corporation to be headed by an effective CEO. We should expect no less for our single-payer health care system.

The Times asks if California should be a guinea pig. For the past decade, the California health care system has been a guinea pig, testing whether the insurance industry, with its managed-care subsidiaries, could bring costs under control while providing universal access. The guinea pig died! Costs are out of control, and access is even more impaired.

The single-payer concept has been proven in Canada. It does control costs, and it does provide universal access. Proposition 186 uses this concept, but adds even more measures to be sure that it will meet the needs of the citizens of California.


San Clemente

* Saskatchewan was the first province in Canada to try the single-payer health plan. It was so successful that the rest of Canada adopted single payer! California should lead the way in the U.S.


Pacific Palisades

* Your editorial was rather far off the mark. California as guinea pig? Don't be silly! Universal health care is provided in every industrialized country throughout the world except the U.S. and South Africa.

The failure of the U.S. Congress to take any action this year gives California a chance to show its true leadership qualities once again by establishing a single-payer health care system with universal coverage for all legal residents. Vote yes on Proposition 186.



* If Proposition 186, the California Health Security Act, were voted in, then at least I could vote out the "powerful statewide elected official, the health commissioner," if he isn't doing his job. I wish I had some voting power over the powerful administrators of all those insurance companies who are paid multimillions of dollars--especially the one who runs the insurance company that also holds my annuity account.


Santa Monica

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