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How much care for the elderly?

July 11, 2009

Re "We're on the slippery slope to ice floes," Opinion, July 5

Charlotte Allen's imaginative rendering of President Obama's vision of America, with the elderly cut adrift from expensive medical procedures, is portrayed almost exclusively via phrases such as "The president seems to be asking," "That's what Obama means when he talks about ... " and "Their implicit proposal seems to want to ..."

Allen mentions the president's terminally ill grandmother, for whom Obama questioned the wisdom of charging taxpayers for a hip replacement -- hardly the heartless calculation Allen makes it out to be.

If Allen must write hit pieces on proposed policy, perhaps next time she could throw in a few more facts.

Michael Chaskes

Los Angeles

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I strongly agree with Allen: Not only should the patient have a strong voice in determining treatment, he or she should also be allowed to refuse all treatment and be given a "helping hand" to hasten death as comfortably as possible.

If Obama's agents are going to be able to refuse care because of age, then they should also help those patients who want to die sooner and more comfortably. As an 85-year-old retired physician, I have long supported the various "dying with dignity" organizations. This new approach of the Obama administration to ration care because of age begs for measures to help patients deal with their infirmity and dying.

Jay B. Belsky

San Pedro

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Twisting the president's stance on unnecessary surgery for terminal patients that costs us billions annually by saying he wants to ration care to the elderly is just ridiculous.

If Allen wants to make the decision on whether or not she can afford and really wants to get hip replacement at age 86 when she is dying of cancer, by all means let her. Just don't expect other Americans to pay for it.

Bonnie Owen

Marina del Rey

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Re "The British model: simple, sensible and civilized," Opinion, July 5

Clancy Sigal doesn't get the complete message across. He says that there was no cost to him for care provided by the British National Healthcare System except for taxes taken out of his wages. There is no "free" British healthcare; everybody's wages are garnished.

Also, many Britons choose to buy private insurance to supplement their "free" healthcare because in cases that must be attended to promptly, only private-practice doctors can assure immediate treatment. My father was told he would have to wait about a year to have cataract surgery, but he was already going blind and could not wait. He opted for the "private" method and was operated on in a week.

Judith Linton

Thousand Oaks

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Though I appreciate The Times publishing an Op-Ed package on healthcare, the three articles represented only the extremes of the debate. Two were rigid defenses of the status quo, while the third defends the socialized British system.

There was no mention of the best solution possible, a public-private combination that exists in many of the successful European healthcare systems.

Jack Davis

Carlsbad

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