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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: ‘Medicare for all’ would put doctors out of business. Does Warren have a plan for them?

Elizabeth Warren speaks during the Democratic debate.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during the Oct. 15 Democratic debate in Ohio.
(Getty Images)

To the editor: As a retired physician and a Medicare patient, I am ambivalent about Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan for “Medicare for all.”

From a patient’s perspective, it’s a great deal. The premiums are affordable, most doctors and hospitals accept it, and you don’t lose Medicare if you change your job. If you are a doctor, however, and your income depends on Medicare reimbursements, you are likely to go bankrupt.

In every other business, when costs go up, the price of goods and services can be increased to cover the difference. Not so in medicine. Insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid control how much physicians are reimbursed and rarely raise their compensation to account for increased expenses.

Warren is knowledgeable when it comes to macroeconomics, but she appears not to have looked at the books of medical practices. If she wants the medical establishment to support her plan, how about paying doctors what they deserve?

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Dr. Paula Bernstein, Los Angeles

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To the editor: According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the U.S. spends about $3.5 trillion a year on healthcare. The 10-year cost going forward will almost certainly be more than $35 trillion, far more than the $20.5 trillion Warren proposes to spend on “Medicare for all.”

It is truly disingenuous to suggest that Medicare for all is hideously expensive when we are already paying as much or more money through taxes, insurance, out-of-pocket expenses, lower wages and higher costs for everything we buy, and while we still have about 28 million people without health insurance.

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The vaunted health insurance from employers that “everyone loves” has been costing more in premiums and out-of-pocket charges due to high deductibles, higher co-pays and uncovered services. Even with the Affordable Care Act, our healthcare costs are the highest in the world, and too many people have no or inadequate access to care.

A system that would cover everyone and cost the same would be a great benefit. The likelihood of reducing overall costs would make it even better.

Catherine Burke, San Gabriel

The writer is an associate professor emeritus of public policy at USC.

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To the editor: Warren is a planner, so besides figuring out how to pay for “Medicare for all,” she needs a plan to deal with objections to using taxpayer funds to pay for reproductive health services like birth control, abortion, sterilization, infertility and more.

These issues tripped up the Obama administration, but it had private insurance companies to cover the gaps.

Gay Anderson, Long Beach


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