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Ideas on healthcare reform

November 15, 2009

Re: David Lazarus' consumer column "GOP plan is a bogus effort," Nov. 8:

Remember the catastrophic-care program? In 1988 it was passed overwhelmingly to help Medicare beneficiaries caught in health catastrophes -- and the very next year, it was repealed overwhelmingly. I hope that is not the fate of the current healthcare plan.

Perhaps it would be simpler if the federal government simply established "federal triage." Let the feds take over or co-run all emergency rooms, and create new clinics where emergency rooms are too sparse.

It could serve as a last resort for those without healthcare (as emergency rooms do now). These centers could also have clinic attributes. Enter them on foot or from an ambulance, and your need could be established. Clinic or emergency care would be engaged.

This might at least end emergency room misuse. But it would be onerous enough that no company would offer it as a plan. Not a great idea, I realize, but it would at least smooth out what we have.

Chuck Wagner

Culver City

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If healthcare costs could be reduced, fewer people would lack coverage and then the government could incrementally reduce costs further. The Republican plan would have dealt with the core problem.

First, reducing government regulation would increase competition between insurance companies and result in lower premiums.

Second, tort reform would cut down on frivolous lawsuits that not only drive up the cost of malpractice insurance, and thus medical services, but also force doctors to order expensive and unnecessary tests to lessen their chances of being sued.

If someone wants to say these halfhearted measures would not have sufficient impact on our serious healthcare problems, I might agree. But they are doable and would not bankrupt the country.

The Democratic plan will no doubt provide coverage for some of the nation's 47 million uninsured, but the impact will be increased medical costs, reduced quality of medical care and national bankruptcy in 20 years. Compared to that scenario, the Republican plan looked good.

Steve Speier

Woodland Hills

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If it really took the GOP leaders this long to craft a plan that would have done so little, that doesn't speak well for their legislative creativeness. A much more credible reason is that they finally felt some embarrassment at being the "party of no" and decided that they had to come up with something.

I am embarrassed that for the greater part of my adult life I was a member of a political party that cares so little for its fellow citizens. As a physician, I have seen the results of unavailable healthcare, and they aren't pretty.

Dr. Hank Stoutz

Ventura

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