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Debate over healthcare costs

July 22, 2007

Re "Healing healthcare," editorial, July 15

The easiest way to solve the U.S. healthcare crisis is by adopting a single-payer system. No new bureaucracy is needed -- use Medicare without the age requirement to cover all Americans. Premiums will be far lower after eliminating insurance companies. All they do is act as unnecessary middlemen while racking up huge profits. We wind up paying as much as three times more for healthcare than any other industrialized nation and get half as much in return.

Don't be fooled by the right-wing rant against the single-payer system in Canada. Yes, Canada has some problems for high-end operations. But if we could provide 90% of the routine care that most Americans need, we'd be much better off than with the inefficient system now in place.

Lon Landis

Los Angeles

The one point you make that is the key to reform is the idea that we need transparency in healthcare costs. Once the real cost of care is revealed, patients can take charge of their healthcare decisions.

In Long Beach, we are building healthylongbeach.org, a website that will be ready within the next month. Residents will be able to connect to their healthcare community from one single website where physicians, hospitals, imaging centers, laboratories and surgery centers will post retail prices. This is the first step toward reinvigorating the patient/doctor relationship as the key to any legitimate healthcare system. We cannot solve this problem with more government. My patients' healthcare is not negotiable on the floor of Congress.

J. Solomon Katz MD

Long Beach

Because most Americans have health insurance, we need to focus on getting help for those who are not insured. Instead of spending time and money having presidential candidates explore this issue interminably -- thinking that we must destroy the system in order to save it -- let's look at some options to offer immediately. One viable solution is setting up walk-in "ability to pay" clinics for non-emergency use. Nurses and nurse practitioners could perform routine services for all patients at a nominal fee. Some doctors could volunteer their time to oversee these clinics and take charge of the more serious medical problems.

What is the purpose of waiting for a big, fancy government-run plan that might take years to institute? Help is needed now.

Irene DeBlasio

Studio City

Your editorial asks the presidential candidates two questions and then proceeds to answer them. The "answers" offered are so vague that I thought I was reading something from a press release issued by a candidate. What, exactly, does "everyone" mean? Does that mean that as a taxpayer, I am going to fund the healthcare costs of illegal immigrants and smokers? In terms of cutting costs, your editorial suggests that everyone must sacrifice.

I am more than willing to sacrifice when smoking is outlawed and the countries from which illegal immigrants come are billed for monthly premiums and medical expenses not covered by policies.

Kenneth W. Keller

Valencia

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