Your article on our deficient healthcare ["Care in Need of a Cure," June 18] stresses what we all should have known but have denied: that we have fine, high-tech care for those like me who can afford it, mediocre ordinary care, and lousy care for the poor.
The high-tech care has created the popular delusion that We're No. 1 in medicine.
The main obstacle to better, wider care has long been the scare-words, "Socialized Medicine!" The horror, the horror! Even FDR refused to include Medicare when he pushed through Social Security in the 1930s. To improve our healthcare system to the level of France or Japan, we need more than piecemeal adjustments to our present nonsystem.
We have to reject the ideological bugaboos that conservatives have used for 70 years in their chants against "Big Government!"
The only thing to fear is fear of what needs to be done.
Your article on healthcare is the clearest presentation of anything I have read on healthcare to date. After 55 years as a practicing physician, I have slowly become convinced that we need Medicare for everyone, or something like it.
Sheila Kuehl's SB 840 would, in effect, provide a Medicare-like program for all Californians. SB 840 was passed by the Assembly and California Senate last year and was vetoed by the governor. It is on its way to the governor again.
FRANK M. KLINE
\o7Rolling Hills Estates
Thank you for publishing Republican and Democratic presidential candidates' positions on healthcare reform.
The contrast could not be clearer. Every Democratic aspirant talks about healthcare reform in a serious way, while 6 of the 10 announced Republican candidates, including front-runners John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, don't even list healthcare as an issue.
Candidates so clueless they can't be bothered with the healthcare crisis should hang their heads in shame -- and be rejected 100% at the polls.
Healthcare delivery in the U.S. is a disaster by all standards. Fifty million citizens don't have it, and the ones who do risk their homes in paying deductibles and other uncovered expenses. A solution already exists and the people who already have it, like it. It's called Medicare. You get to choose your own doctor. You don't have to fight just to get a service that some private insurance company does not want to pay for.
I support a new law, now in Congress, called HR 676. It extends Medicare to cover all individuals residing in the United States.
They would receive high quality and affordable healthcare services. They would receive all medically necessary services by the physicians of their choice, with no restrictions on what providers they could visit. If implemented, the United States National Health Insurance Act would cover primary care, dental, mental health, prescription drugs and long-term care. I ask everyone to tell your Congressional representative to support this bill.
You list what the 2008 presidential candidates have to say on their websites about healthcare. All eight Democratic candidates make some statement on healthcare, but of the eight Republican candidates listed, only four do.
While this observation is hardly surprising, it is perhaps useful for younger Times readers to know what the numbers mean.
We are not dealing with "impressionistic slop" here, not a mere opinion or a mere anecdote or mere gossip. The association of (a) presence of explicit statement on healthcare with (b) political party is highly significant. It could occur by chance less than 3 times out of 100 cases and is very strong (Phi coefficient = 0.577).
The association also provides a nice commentary on your other story on how low the United States ranks in international surveys of healthcare quality.
Gee, what party has been dominant in Washington in the past few years? Isn't it time to connect the dots?
ROBERT S. KIRSNER