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Crash Course in Trauma Funds

July 13, 2002

Re " 'Sin Tax' for Trauma Centers," editorial, July 6: In addition to your proposed "sin tax" on speeders, perhaps it would be helpful to reduce trauma center needs by initiating a real sin penalty on driving under the influence. First conviction: one week in the pokey and suspension of your driver's license for six months, both without exception. Second conviction: six months in jail, pull your driver's license and forfeit your auto (to be sold with proceeds to a fund for victims). Third conviction: same as "three strikes"--life. This should save many lives, mangled bodies and families.

Dick Littlestone

Pacific Palisades

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I wholeheartedly support the idea of adding a fee to traffic citations to provide critical funding to maintain high-quality trauma centers throughout L.A. County. In my early years with the LAPD I saw firsthand the carnage that resulted from violent traffic collisions. But I wouldn't stop with a fee on speeding violations, as The Times suggests. I would also recommend a fee on two other major causes of traffic-related injury and death: red-light and unsafe-turning violations.

All of our homeland security measures will be for naught if the most populated county in the United States has a trauma system that cannot handle the personal disasters that befall many of its residents every day.

Gregory R. Berg

Community Safety Director

Cerritos

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The Times is to be commended for its articles regarding the dangerous condition of our public trauma and emergency-care centers. At 7:45 p.m., June 4, my husband suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. By 8:30 the L.A. paramedics arrived only to tell us the doors of the UCLA, Brotman and Santa Monica hospitals were closed to the paramedics and to us, regardless of our full medical insurance coverage. Their allotment, whether for a cut finger or someone in critical condition like my husband, had been filled.

By midnight he was finally admitted to UCLA because our daughter, who is a doctor on staff at UCLA, was able to appeal to a fellow physician to sign him in. Kudos to the UCLA intensive care neurology department for saving his life. But shame on our 911 system, which left him to die. In an emergency, everyone is at risk, no matter how much insurance or money he has.

We must devise a system to provide health care for everyone. Suggestions such as those made by Jamie Court could be a start ("Let a Public Board Set Health-Care Rates," Commentary, July 7). We must demand that the plan to cut more clinics and trauma centers be scrapped.

Lillian Laskin

West Los Angeles

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Court recommends "statewide public control over all health-care dollars so that money can be directed to where it's most needed." This proposal is the third step in the evolution of much public policy. The first step is to identify a problem--in this case, insufficient provision of health care for a segment of the population. The second step is to attempt a solution by government interference in the market, which makes the problem worse. The third step is to claim that the worsened situation is caused by a failure of the market and to propose more government regulation, which continues to make the problem worse.

The idea that a government agency can effectively allocate all health-care dollars is a fantasy that may provide benefits in the short term but that will only make the problem worse in the long run.

Stan Warford

Malibu

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