Nurse supports changes in system
As a nurse for many years, I whole-heartedly support health care reform. The private market has had its chance, but it has not been able to control health care costs, and every insured person is paying more for premiums. Despite the free-market environment, insurance companies are enjoying healthy profits while making the situation worse by functioning as the bureaucrat between you and your doctor.
Many people complain about government interference. I see a bigger interference coming from insurance companies. Pre-authorization, a measure used by insurance companies to control costs, is now required for a whole host of diagnostic tests, routine medications, medically necessary surgeries and referral to other services.
This is akin to forcing physicians to get permission from the insurance company before prescribing any therapy to a patient for which the physician was clearly trained to make such decisions. It is also an unquestionable interference in the doctor-patient relationship that delays care, causes confusion on the part of the patient and creates tons of extra work for doctors and other health care workers in the form of phone calls, faxes and letter-writing requests seeking insurance approval.
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Whether one is insured, underinsured or not insured at all, we all stand to benefit from health care reform through lower health care costs or more affordable insurance premiums. But health care reform isn't only about costs. Health care reform is also about providing access to affordable care for everyone. People complain about those who "don't pay" or "illegal immigrants." I worry about living in an advanced society that allows people to suffer and die needlessly when help is clearly available.
Through reform, I believe we can strengthen what we have and make U.S. health care better in many ways for everyone.
Universal health care will cost you
Who does Gerald Meadows think is going to pay for the affordable health care if not the working families ("All Americans need access to health care," Oct. 12)?
Our government gets its money from the taxpayers, so there is nothing free it can give.
Insurance companies are not in business to lose money; they just spread the risk over a pool of insured clients.
Employers forced to provide new benefits will pass the cost on in the price of their goods or services.
Does Mr. Meadows expect doctors to treat 20 percent more patients with no pay increase? If so, would he be willing to work 20 percent more hours for the same pay?
However, there is opportunity for reform and savings here.
Malpractice reform could save billions each year, but President Obama took that off the table. Not because of malpractice victims, but because of the trial lawyers, who give heavily to the Democrats.
That leaves the working people and Medicare recipients to pay for the changes.
It is not a coincidence that most of the reforms take place after the 2012 election. That is so you vote before you realize you have been had. Again.
ROBERT W. WILDER
Paying for new health care legislation
Bipartisan health care reform will be the best the health insurance industry can buy.
The health insurance lobby gave almost $170 million to federal lawmakers in 2007 and 2008 - Democrats and Republicans. Data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics reveals that 54 percent went to Democrats. In the first three months of this year, Democrats collected 60 percent of the $5.4 million donated by health care companies and their employees.
Max Baucus, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, held extensive hearings on the health care reform bill. Health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus' political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008. Baucus began refusing contributions from health care political action committees after June 1. Lobbyists and corporate executives continue to make donations.
Health care lobby contributions have gone to Baucus, Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and other senators of both parties whose votes are crucial in a final health care reform deal and the leaders of five key committees. Grassley has received more than $2 million from the health and insurance sectors since 2003. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, took in $1.6 million from the health sector over the past two years, and Dave Camp, R-Mich., the ranking Republican received nearly $1 million.
Insurance will cost more after overhaul
I read that the "insurance industry" had funded a study of what would happen to health insurance costs if the government health care bill as drafted were to be passed into law.
There is a reason insurance companies don't accept pre-existing problems without wait periods and higher premiums. It is called liability. Someone with serious health problems is far more likely to file a claim than a young healthy person. The insurance company must pay to the limits of the contract you bought or face legal action; thus it must underwrite the increased risks. Nowhere have I heard that the government will fund these mandates, so who will pay for the increased risks? You and me - us.
Now the politicians and the White House are attacking the insurance companies for pointing out their fraud and deceit.
Another look at insurance lobby
The insurance industry lobby recently released a report that claims health care reform legislation would raise annual family premiums to more than $20,000. The report makes clear that the insurance industry will not lower health care costs on its own. This is an outrageous threat by one of the richest industries in America.
Our representatives should respond to this bullying and stop coddling an industry whose sole function is to make enormous profits from the pain and suffering of patients while providing little in return. These claims made by the insurance companies are politicking for corporate gain.
Their recent statements further highlight that we must include a public health insurance option in the marketplace to protect families and put more money back in their wallets by creating greater competition and driving down costs. The health insurance industry is projecting doom and despair for those who seek to reform its business practices. It looks like the insurance industry is getting scared. After months of quiet, they're launching a broadside war to stop any reform. They will raise premiums sky-high even if reforms don't pass.
There has never been a better argument for the public plan than the one the insurance industry just handed Congress.
Turn to private sector for solution
The debate on health care reform should be focused on rehabilitating Medicare before starting a new government health insurance program. As one who is currently on Medicare, I see premiums increase every time a cost-of-living raise is given to Social Security beneficiaries.
The solution is to farm out the Medicare system to the private sector, which would in turn give a guaranteed policy at a guaranteed price. The current $426 billion Medicare budget would be a big incentive for private insurance companies to create an affordable health care plan that could be available to Medicare patients and the general population. Such a plan would require no deductibles or pre-diagnoses. Competition would drive prices down and not government threats of taxing uninsured workers or businesses to provide insurance coverage. The wisdom of a business solution is always better than the government. Businesses don't tax you to death.
JAMES B. SKELTON
Churchill's words ring true today
In March 1944, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the Royal Academy of Physicians on the subject of diseases faced by people of embattled Britain. D-Day at Normandy was less than three months away when Churchill spoke.
This is what Sir Winston said, in part, on that day:
"The discoveries of healing science must be the inheritance of all. That is clear. Disease must be attacked, whether it occurs in the poorest or the richest man or woman simply on the ground that it is the enemy; and it must be attacked just in the same way as the fire brigade will give its full assistance to the humblest cottage as readily as to the most important mansion. Our policy is to create a national health service in order to ensure that everybody in the country, irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation, shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available."
Well said, Sir Winston, well said.