Letters to the Editor

IN FOCUS: Health care

We have yet to have a real debate in this country on what we lose if we give the government broad new controls over the health care industry.

Much of the cost inflation that we have seen over the past decades has come as a result of billions of dollars spent in research and development of new medical practices, procedures, drugs and equipment. Diseases that were once a death sentence can now be managed. Premature babies have remarkably better chances of survival. Men and women across the world have a higher quality of life and a longer life span. These advances have costs, but they are well worth it.

In a capitalistic society, capital will find its way to the ideas that have the best chance of returning a profit. President Obama and Democrats in Congress want to squeeze the profits out of the medical sector so that they can provide health care "insurance" to those who already have access to health care. If they are successful, investors will simply put their capital to work somewhere else. It is unlikely that this new destination will do so much to improve the lives of so many.

Heavily subsidized care and new government regulations may help some people in the early years of the president's programs. Human nature will eventually drive people to demand more services as long as someone else is picking up the bill. Human nature will drive investors, entrepreneurs and professionals outside of health care. Human nature will drive politicians to promise more to the masses while raising revenue from more politically palatable sources, such as health care innovators, insurance companies and the so-called rich. Human nature will destroy the political left's fantasy health care system.

The irony is that the president mastered human nature during his campaign. How can one man and one party's politics so perfectly master human nature, while its policies so obviously ignore it?



Reform is important, but don't rush it

As a health care professional, a patient, a parent and a grandparent, I am very concerned about the future of our health care system.

We do have high-quality care, but it is too often dependent upon where you are, what insurance plan you have and what resources you have available.

We need to improve access so that everyone can have high-quality care that is cost-effective and affordable. One issue that needs to be addressed in any health care reform is cost transparency. What are we (employers, insurance companies, patients) paying for the care that we receive? Many times we cannot find out the true costs as they are buried in some contract that prevents full disclosure. Also, what about the costs that are related to defensive medicine? We need significant tort reform in any health reform legislation.

I am not saying that we need to abandon our current mix of private and public programs, but we do need to fix what is broken.

If we continue the way we are going, we will bankrupt the system. The knowledge, the technology and the resources to improve the system exist, but do we have the resolve and the leadership in Washington to make it a reality? We cannot afford to do anything less.

I am also horrified with what has been going on in Washington. Last week the Senate Finance Committee voted down an amendment that would have required that actual legislative text to be posted for the American people to review before the committee's final vote. Further, the Senate leadership is threatening to implement reconciliation to force a vote with limited debate. This apparent lack of respect from selected members of Congress is not acceptable. We must let our elected officials in Washington know how we feel. Open and honest discussion, debate and compromise are all needed and appropriate for this time.



Health care works for other nations

One fact that needs to be mentioned in the debate over health care reform is that almost all other industrialized nations in the world have some type of national health care, and people in other countries are generally more satisfied with their health care than people in the United States. .

The life expectancies in these countries are equal to or greater than the life expectancy in this country, so it doesn't seem to have hurt them any, contrary to the fear mongering being put forth by the insurance companies and the Republican Party.



Don't limit jury awards

We need insurance reform in some form, but the tort reform being discussed raises some questions.

Should people who are victims of doctors' mistakes and other medical errors be punished with award limits? How can you put a price on a person's life or limbs?

I believe in our courts and legal system. Juries do make some gigantic awards, but that can be worked out in the appeals process. We do not need to legalize medical mistakes or make them less serious. Let's leave this part to the courts and reform the system to the benefit of all.


West Columbia