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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: If socialized medicine is fraught, why do Britain and Canada love it?

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in support of “Medicare for All” legislation on Sept. 13, 2017.
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in support of “Medicare for All” legislation on Sept. 13, 2017.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

To the editor: Peter D. Salins calls “Medicare for All” a “fantasy” and says support for it is a “litmus test” for Democratic presidential candidates. Such contradictory rhetoric vitiates his entire argument.

He begins by focusing on three European countries that don’t use Medicare for All, rather than Britain, Canada and Australia, all three of which have used single-payer systems successfully for many decades. Salins writes that two-thirds of Canadians buy private insurance to supplement their government’s program. What he does not say is that this private insurance covers only about 30% of Canadians’ healthcare costs.

A substantial majority of the Brexit-riven British, “leavers” and “remainers” alike, love their National Health Service. More than 90% of Canadians support their single-payer system.

Salins asks how we’re going to pay for Medicare for All. The “wealth tax” policies proposed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would finance it. Salins, however, does not mention that solution.

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Leigh Clark, Granada Hills

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To the editor: “Medicare for All” is a great slogan, because most people like Medicare.

However, the so-called Medicare for All proposals have been confusing precisely because the proponents describe single-payer socialized medicine, which is quite different from Medicare as we know it. Everybody on Medicare who can possibly afford it has some sort of supplemental coverage.

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Thank you for publishing a dispassionate evaluation of these proposals.

Norman H. Green, Los Angeles

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To the editor: There’s a lot wrong with Salins’ piece arguing that our wasteful private health insurance system is somehow much more efficient and cheaper than Medicare for All would be. He even tries to persuade us that our current Medicare system costs more to administer than private insurance.

In reality, only 2% of Medicare costs go to administering the program, while up to 20% of our health insurance premiums go toward administration and even profits.

I’d also like to say something about Salins’ biography, which identifies him as a “professor of political science at Stony Brook University in New York.” What it fails to mention is that Salins is also a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute.

Clifford J. Tasner, North Hollywood


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