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Reform the Health System

November 02, 2002

"Health Care Agendas Leave Patients Out," by Steve Lopez, Oct. 27: When will the leaders and the citizens of this country realize that the only so-called superpower in the world today is not a Third World but more like a "Fifth World" nation when it comes to health care for its citizens?

I firmly believe that our stubborn refusal even to consider universal medical coverage puts us at greater risk from sickness and disease than from an outside terrorist attack or war. Only a healthy population can face the vicissitudes of everyday life, much less combat. The boogeyman of higher taxes is a false and specious argument. If all of the agencies now in place -- Medicare, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, workers' compensation, even the health-care component of the Veterans Affairs Department -- were combined into one national health-care agency, the cost savings would be phenomenal. And individual taxation could not possibly be as high as insurance costs are today for the ever-fewer people who are able to afford such a luxury.

To those who point to minor failings in the systems of other countries, I say we can choose the best of all the plans at work in every enlightened nation but ours -- and avoid their pitfalls -- to devise the best and most workable yet. I know for certain that even a complaining Canadian or Briton considers his coverage far superior to the ever-diminishing resources the bulk of our population can afford and has available.

Eleanor Jackson

Palm Springs

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In light of all the recent news stories on proposed regime change in the Middle East as a path to a more stable and ultimately peaceful world, I would urge our politicians in this election season to consider nonviolent public health and micro-credit solutions as counter-terrorist measures instead.

As a family physician working in community clinics in Los Angeles County, as well as in medically underserved areas in Latin America, the Balkans and South Africa, I would like to see Congress (1) tackle the domestic terror that my uninsured patients here in California feel when faced with tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills, by sponsoring a plan for national health insurance in the U.S., and (2) enable the very poor in developing countries to transform their lives from desperation to hope with loans as small as $50 to $100 for small-business ventures, by expanding support for international micro-enterprise programs.

Gabriella Miotto MD

Newport Beach

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