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Balancing the Healthcare Books

September 18, 2004

In the Sept. 14 article, "2 Very Different Cures for Healthcare Crisis," according to President Bush, Sen. John F. Kerry's plan to improve healthcare would cost $1.5 trillion over a decade. How much does the same healthcare cost consumers if we don't call it a tax? We are already paying trillions of dollars for overpriced insurance, overpriced pharmaceuticals, doctors' overpriced malpractice insurance and necessary care that is not covered by insurance, but, to hear Bush, it doesn't count as long as it isn't called a tax.

This is the kind of thoughtless statement and irresponsible wordplay we will continue to hear as long as we have a Republican in the White House.

Lois Lyons



The reason we have an increasing number of citizens without health insurance is its very high cost and their desire to spend their income on other goods and services.

The cost of healthcare is out of control because Medicare, Medicaid and some private insurance plans pay physicians on a fee-for-service basis. Under this system, the more the physician does, the more the physician makes.

Moreover, physician fees are often higher on a per-hour-worked basis if the care involves hospitalizations and the application of high-tech care.

In contrast, health plans such as Kaiser Permanente dominate the commercial health insurance market because physicians have an incentive to keep people healthy via prevention and then treat disease with the most cost-effective combination of treatments. The Kerry approach to healthcare reform seeks to maintain and expand outdated government-run programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to cover the uninsured, thus expanding the inflationary influence of their fee-for-service financial structure. The Bush plan looks to replace both programs by providing the elderly, the poor and the disabled with the means to purchase their own commercial health plans. Under the Bush plan, all citizens must contribute, thus preventing healthy individuals from opting out of the system and relying on the government safety net should they have an accident. The Bush plan is more likely to move the country in the right direction.

Jeff McCombs

Health Economist

USC School of Pharmacy


President Bush says he wants to protect us from unsafe pharmaceuticals, especially those drugs from Canada. Oh my God! Are Canadians dropping dead from unsafe medicines? I better warn my Canadian friends and family of this threat. But where are the statistics? I hope the U.S. media can find out about this hidden scandal, or is this just another political scare tactic by the White House?

But first let me look in my medicine cabinet. Dovonex, an ointment for psoriasis, made in Ireland, prescribed by my dermatologist and filled at the local pharmacy. Is this legal?

Suzanne Stone

Canoga Park


Where's the "ownership" talked about by the Bush administration? The only ownership is by the drug companies who own the Republicans.

A.L. Kenney

North Hollywood


The most effective cure for containing the escalating cost of healthcare begins with us. We only have to see the kind of food we put in our shopping carts, how often we eat at the fast-food outlets and how much exercise we get to know where the real problem and the real solution lie. The choice is ours: take personal responsibility to live a healthy life resulting in less reliance on expensive medical care or whine to the government to provide the cure that will ultimately be reflected in higher costs to the taxpayer.

Cathy Dowling

Spring Valley, Calif.

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