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Letters: Healthcare at ground level

November 04, 2012

Re "Healthcare's crucial test," Oct. 28

I am a physician at a federally funded nonprofit community clinic, and I am glad that someone is finally providing evidence of what our clinics do to ensure the overall health of our country. Your article accurately summed up the last 13 years of my work there.

Oftentimes I wonder if I'm crazy for still being there, but I believe in our mission to deliver comprehensive, high-quality care to the underserved. It is too bad that our country has struggled to understand that this model, a component of Obamacare, is necessary to reduce overall healthcare costs.

As well, wouldn't it be great if the patients would recognize and understand their responsibility as consumers?

Marlene S. Lopez, MD

Long Beach

As a volunteer physician, board member and donor at the Saban Free Clinic for 30 years, I have analyzed the budgets of safety-net clinics in great detail. Dan Hawkins, senior vice president of the National Assn. of Community Health Centers, believes that their future is competing with other providers. Really? These clinics cannot compete without massive federal subsidies and money from other sources.

Republicans want to cut Medicaid and to refuse to pay for undocumented Americans. President Obama has placed entitlement cuts on the table, and Gov. Jerry Brown's budget cuts Medi-Cal. As the vast majority of indigent patients will have Medicaid or no insurance, there will never be enough revenue to pay the costs of running these clinics.

Do the NACHC leaders really believe these clinics can compete with the private doctors in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Encino, Pasadena or the major medical groups affiliated with UCLA, Cedars-Sinai or even the well-oiled, full-service HMO Kaiser?

Howard C. Mandel, MD

Los Angeles


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