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Working Poor Deserve Affordable Healthcare

September 02, 2004

Re "County Feels Symptoms of Health Crisis," Aug. 29: Thank you for drawing attention to the growing emergency room crisis in Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, the county continues to melt down.

Every day I see in the emergency department where I work continued and increasing long waits, delayed care and the indignity of a class of workers in our society deprived of adequate access to primary healthcare. The majority of my patients are the working poor, paying their taxes to state and federal healthcare programs and to Medicare, and getting nothing in return other than an increased chance of death because of the preventive care they never receive.

Proposition 67 would shore up the safety net and prevent collapse. But we also need to think of a better way to treat the working poor and their families other than having them pay into the system and get nothing in return except humiliation and last-minute lifesaving care in an overtaxed emergency department.

Dr. S. Daniel Higgins

President, Los Angeles

County Medical Assn.

*

Of the five letters published on Aug. 28 regarding the hospital crisis facing Southern California, three placed the blame squarely on illegal immigrants who use the emergency rooms. However, in an editorial the day before, The Times reported that illegal immigrants make up less than one-third of the uninsured people using these facilities. Blaming illegal immigrants for the financial crisis of hospitals merely serves to distract people from the real problem of unaffordable healthcare in this country.

Vicki Gewe

Pomona

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