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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Feinstein's Support a Bitter Pill for Opponents of Medicare Bill

November 27, 2003

Re "Medicare Bill's Risky Politics," Nov. 24: I have read the details of the proposed Medicare prescription law and find them appalling. I did the math and found the premiums to be $420 annually. Add to that the $250 deductible and 25% of the first $2,250 and a patient will spend a total of $1,232.50 to save about $1,000. The recipient then pays the next $2,850 out of pocket.

Who benefits from this plan? First, the drug companies, as the government cannot negotiate with them for lower prices and has given them the added protection of outlawing importation of cheaper foreign drugs. Second, the insurance companies will reap a bonanza in underwriting the program. And that is the good part of the bill.

Incentives will be raised for private insurance companies to compete with the government for Medicare patients. The subscribers to traditional Medicare will find their premiums raised and private care more difficult to obtain.

As it is, with annual cuts in payments to providers (both doctors and hospitals), more of them are refusing to accept Medicare patients. As usual, big business reaps the rewards in exchange for minimal benefit to the average citizen. It is business as usual for this administration.

Arthur S. Friedman MD

Newport Beach

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Re "GOP Gains Feinstein Support on Medicare," Nov. 24: As senior citizens, we are dismayed with Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) support of the disastrous Medicare bill. It would have been better to defeat this bill and work toward a more thoughtful drug benefit, without dismantling Medicare.

Ultimately, it increasingly appears to be that universal health care is the only solution. A good start toward appropriate action would be to bring all federal employees under Social Security and Medicare, including the Congress and executive branch, so they would personally comprehend the consequences.

Dick Littlestone

Pacific Palisades

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Shame on Feinstein! Having voted for her in every senatorial election in which she has run, I am ashamed of her and of myself for believing in her.

First, she backs our pseudo-president in his irresponsible and reprehensible war on Iraq and now she breaks ranks with her own party and backs a Medicare bill that is woefully inadequate and, worse yet, may lead to the destruction of Medicare entirely.

Feinstein should take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask herself when she became a Republican in Democrat's clothing.

She can bet that when she comes up for reelection, my vote will go to the candidate from the Green Party. The Greens may not win elections, but they live by the principles that they preach. Feinstein should try doing the same.

Christy L. French

Los Angeles

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Another boondoggle: In the past six months, drug companies, HMOs and other powerful industries have spent an incredible $139 million lobbying Congress to give them what they want.

It's not surprising that they've gotten a bill that will give them an estimated $139 billion over the next eight years -- not a bad return on investment.

You can say what you want about President Bush, but it's clear his powerful campaign contributors get what they pay for.

Syd Brown

Los Osos

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