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A House divided

November 11, 2009

Re "House passes healthcare plan," Nov. 8

As a physician who has spent the last 30 years working for women's reproductive health, I was a big supporter of health reform, having observed firsthand the abuses my patients suffered at the hands of health insurance companies.

I never imagined that Congress would cave in to the religious right and pass a bill that completely betrayed women's health for the sake of political expediency.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Politicians are always more concerned with getting reelected and making backroom deals than with doing the right thing.

Paula Bernstein, M.D.

Los Angeles

The writer is associate clinical chief of gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

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As a proponent of affordable healthcare for all, I am wondering what has happened to the "affordable" part?

Rita Burton

Pacific Palisades

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Your headline was misleading. What the House passed was health insurance legislation, which mandates that everyone purchase some form of health insurance coverage.

I say this because without the inclusion of a truly comprehensive public health insurance plan in the bill, the House, under the auspices of "healthcare reform," has assured the insurance industry that the government will provide it with a $600-billion subsidy over the next 10 years to provide health insurance to a portion of the uninsured in this country.

However, while health insurance presumably provides for access to health services, The Times has well documented in previous articles that having access does not always translate into receiving the healthcare necessary to ensure good health.

Anthony Balderrama

Eagle Rock

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The House bill would essentially rob senior Medicare Advantage plan member Peter of a reported $400 billion worth of lower premiums and targeted benefits to pay Paul, who may never have worked a day in his life and wouldn't have otherwise met prerequisites for health insurance eligibility.

And the AARP supported that? Well, here's my own senior citizen message to the AARP: By cracky, begone, you turncoats -- and feel free to take your latest endorsement for $200-a-month-in-premiums "Medicare Supplement plans" with you!

Harvey Pearson

Los Angeles

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Senators, observe these completely different experiences of healthcare as you ponder your version of a healthcare bill:

My friend's broken hip recently cost Medicare hundreds of thousands of dollars. Her HMO only ordered one bone-density test -- seven years ago when I went along and asked on her behalf. Though it showed osteoporosis, there was no follow-up.

At her recent post-surgery visit, when I went along and asked again, her doctor ordered a bone test and treatment. From the messy paper chart, he couldn't tell if or when she had ever had a bone-density test nor what, if anything, had been done about it. His group's system doesn't remind, check on or reward screening and prevention -- only the volume of office visits.

In contrast, my own doctor works for a nonprofit that pays him the same salary regardless of how many patients he sees. His electronic charting system prompts him to order bone-density tests, other screenings and preventive care.

My electronic chart shows him test results and other data in an organized, accessible format. My chart also feeds data to his group's research data base and its quality assurance committees, which coach and reward him for screening, prevention and continued health of his patients.

Cherie Rouse

Loma Linda

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Re "Freshman casts lone Republican 'yes' vote," Nov. 8

Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-La.) is the epitome of what most of us expect in our lawmakers.

Knowing what the country needs, knowing what most Americans want, knowing what is the right thing, he cast his vote with the Democrats on this vital issue.

He wasn't tainted by lobbyist money from the insurance companies; he wasn't swayed by the voices of "no" when he knew in his heart they were wrong. He decided this was too important to play the partisan game, and he simply did what was right.

Diane Welch

Cypress

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Re "Two hot buttons," Editorial, Nov. 5

Your editorial speaks of "critics" and "opponents" of federal funding of abortions and of healthcare for illegal immigrants. Although The Times often seems to brush aside the view of the broad electorate in the United States, I suspect that members of Congress are much more tuned in.

The Rasmussen poll recently illustrated where public opinion lies. Eighty percent of Americans are dead set against federal funding of healthcare for illegal immigrants, the poll found in June. In September, only 13% said they supported requiring federal funding of abortions.

Certainly in a free and open democracy, The Times and others are free to make their views known to their readers, but perhaps a little more respect should be shown for "we the people."

Gary Hall

Los Angeles

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I am incensed that there should be a prohibition of health insurance funding -- public or otherwise -- for a legal and in many cases medically necessary procedure. In a democracy, tax money gets used for things that not everyone likes.

I am far from alone in having strong moral objections to having a huge military, to the federal government spending money on what I consider a waste and overreach of power for drug enforcement, to illegal wiretapping, to illegal "renditions" and to propping up Israel with huge foreign and military aid, to name a few.

All of these policies are supported by taxpayers like me who object to them. But I don't think I have a right to avoid paying for these things. Why do people who object to abortion think they have special rights?

Alex Murray

Altadena

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