Re "Why the doctor won't see you now," Column One, Dec. 15
This is a timely article, as healthcare reform becomes more likely with the incoming Obama administration.
However, any comprehensive effort to change our fragmented healthcare system will run aground if our primary care crisis is not dealt with.
The American College of Physicians reports that from 1997 to 2005, the number of U.S. medical graduates entering family medicine residencies dropped by 50%.
That is likely to continue as medical school debt increases well beyond $100,000 per graduate and primary care physicians continue to receive low payment rates from Medicare and other insurers.
Without a strong foundation of primary care physicians, where will patients get care -- even if we close the gap of the uninsured?
Mark A. Newsom
Silver Spring, Md.
When are we going to realize that a single-payer system would solve this problem?
Physicians are driven out of primary care -- where early treatment saves the most in suffering and expense -- because patients can't or won't pay and private insurers discount payments and inundate providers with bureaucratic restrictions.
Single-payer legislation will be back in California's next legislative session. It's the only plan that makes sense: comprehensive coverage for all that saves money for families, businesses and government.
This time, instead of knee-jerk rejection of a health insurance plan that provides better care more cheaply, let's make California the innovator once again.
Here is your story condensed: Nice lady. Probably a good doctor. Terrible businesswoman. Business fails.
Paul Lavin, OD