MAILBAG: U.S. health care needs improvement

The statement by Ed Coffman in the Sept. 12 edition of the Glendale News-Press that “the U.S. has the best health-care system in the world” has been repeated in recent years like a mantra (“Health-care-reform suggestions fall short,” Sept. 12).

In some ways, it seems true enough. U.S. hospitals and doctors may have, on the whole, the most advanced medical equipment and techniques found anywhere.

Also, I agree with Coffman that many people from foreign countries come to the U.S. for medical treatment, but they are the wealthy or the few not-so-wealthy who are willing and able to make substantial financial sacrifices to receive first-rate care. On the other hand, Coffman overlooks the numerous uninsured or under-insured Americans who go to Mexico or India for medical care because they cannot afford it here.

Sometimes it seems that medical care in the United States is a little like waging guerrilla warfare with stealth bombers. Although our system is the most advanced, it does not always take care of basic problems in the most rational or effective way. Coffman’s prescriptions for reform essentially accept the status quo. They certainly would do little to ensure that all Americans have access to the kind of medical care that one would expect in a First World country and certainly would expect in the United States.

While I cannot agree with Coffman that the United States has the best health-care system in the world, I believe it is capable of the best and should have the best.

Achieving this goal will require the kind of serious reforms being considered now by our representatives in Congress.



Health-care bills not perfect, but needed

Wow, where to begin (“Health-care-reform suggestions fall short,” Sept. 12). Yes, the president and Congress have very clearly laid out the content of these bills. It is sad the media, instead of putting their experts to work combing through it and calling out both sides for any distortions, are focusing on only what drives their ratings up.

The House version has more than 1,000 pages, but it and its Senate counterpart will have to be combined with other versions, growing in size. The real details of this legislation will be decided in a conference committee. That is why it is important to have an open and honest debate about the issues, to ensure the final legislation will contain solutions that will benefit our society as a whole.

The bills are not perfect, but they are a huge step forward. The writer has a point that primary-care physicians are in shortage in this country. That is because the insurance companies have put in place a system in which only specialists will make money. Doctors work hard and pay a lot of money to earn that title; they deserve to be compensated accordingly.

The legislation would provide an incentive for doctors to become primary-care physicians. It would help doctors with their student loans. There are other proposals that would do this in much stronger terms, and I would encourage everyone to write Rep. Adam Schiff to make sure the problem is adequately addressed.

There are numerous protections in place to ensure that major companies cannot opt into the so-called public option, making sure that for those who work for said companies will not be affected. Only about 5% of the population, by estimates of the Congressional Budget Office, might actually go on to the public option.

Medicare did not bring down the insurance companies. Social Security did not bring about a Socialist government, a downfall of American ideals, or strip away freedom. What both Medicare and Social Security have done is to help bring about comfort and security for the elderly by lifting them out of poverty, allowing them to get the care they need, and treat them as valued citizens.

Insurance companies and Republicans have made the same arguments about Democrats being Socialists and trying to rip away our freedom. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now.

There is already a bureaucrat between you and your doctor — they are called insurance companies. Rationing already happens. I know several people who have to ration their medication according to what they can afford.

I agree that people need to take a more active role in their health, but it is difficult when eating healthily costs more than fast food. Maybe, like how we tax cigarettes for contributing to cancer, we should tax fast food for contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart troubles and high blood pressure.

In many ways I’ve received better care overseas than I have here. I still drive to Mexico to go to the dentist. I believe we have the best specialists in the world, but going to one would put me in so much debt I would be forced into bankruptcy.

Our Founding Fathers wanted and set up a system so that we could always be striving for a more perfect union. We have to acknowledge when we are wrong in order to grow stronger and to ensure we do not repeat mistakes. That will ensure that we will forever be a strong, free nation, and a shining beacon on the hill.



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