* As a survivor of breast cancer who has private (i.e., more and more expensive) coverage, I can attest to the need for health-care reform. From what I have read, the two most viable options for universal health care are President Clinton's plan and the single-payer plan, both of which have some drawbacks but also offer great improvement over the current system. Many of the people who are picking holes in these plans are those who currently have good coverage that they take for granted. They need to listen to the voices of those who have lost jobs and therefore insurance or who have had their premiums jump or lost coverage because of severe illness. It can happen to anyone.
Anyone who thinks that universal coverage will be too expensive should visit an emergency room, which provides the only medical care for many people, or read the statistics on the money spent for lack of preventive medicine. Those of us who are covered by insurance are sharing those costs right now.
* In response to "Clinton Gets It Just About Right," Column Left, Sept. 23:
Whenever the single-payer health care proposal is mentioned it is said to have two major flaws--a huge tax increase and tough opposition. Clinton's plan is therefore said to be more feasible politically. The truth is the "huge tax increase" replaces the even larger amounts we all pay to the health insurance companies. The reason Clinton's plan is considered more reasonable is because the largest of health insurers will still be managing our health-care dollars. This, of course, is exactly what their high-paid executives want. If our Congress and President were willing to take the insurers (and AMA) head-on we could have a single-payer system with even lower costs and higher quality. If one wishes to know why our Congress is afraid of these special-interest groups, you need only look at who funds their reelection campaigns.
The Clinton plan is definitely much better than the current system, but in time it too will need major reform if the special-interest groups in charge now remain in charge down the road.
F. JOSEPH DeVRIES
* Whether we get the Clinton health-care plan or one crafted by the Republicans, we are destined to get socialized medicine. Two thoughts come to mind: The new plan will give the government total control over 14% of the productive output of Americans, and it will mandate that one person pay the bill of another.
We have a two-party political system in this country all right, socialist party A and socialist party B.
* There are two issues involving Clinton's health-care proposal that have me perplexed. The first: Why, after 12 years of controlling the White House, are the Republicans now proposing their version of a health-care reform package? The second: Why are so many conservatives saying that his proposal is socialist and that socialism doesn't work? What do they think Medicare, Medi-Cal, unemployment benefits, Social Security, disability benefits, public education, federal, state and local financial assistance (example, after natural disasters) represent? All the government-sponsored financial benefits that Americans have grown accustomed to are based precisely on socialist ideas. The United States stopped being a capitalist enterprise the moment a government agency answered the first public call for financial help.
LUCIA M. CONFORTI
* Hillary Clinton failed to address two of the major reasons our medical costs have escalated. First, medical malpractice awards are out of control. Doctors are forced to pay ridiculously high insurance rates as well as order unnecessary and expensive testing procedures for patients to protect themselves from an unprecedented high percentage of lawsuits.
The second ignored problem is illegal aliens. We simply cannot continue to provide free health care for all who cross our borders illegally. Consider that three-fourths of maternity patients at our county hospital are non-paying illegal aliens. The Clintons' health and tax plans are taking our nation in the wrong direction down the path to socialism and making it all sound wonderful by spewing forth idealistic rhetoric. Socialism is not the answer to what ails America. It is bad medicine that will create new and far more serious illnesses.
* Amazing! For the first time we are seeing what senators look like with their mouths closed. Keep it up, Hillary.