Letters to the Editor
Letter to The Los Angeles Times
January 4, 2003
A Rational Health System
Re “Rx for Universal Care,” editorial, Dec. 29: Although every caring person agrees that the debate on universal care needs to be moved into the mainstream arena, considerable confusion remains. Should we build on the current system of employer-sponsored plans and public programs or should we replace them with a single-payer system?
Although continuing to use private plans would perpetuate the tremendous administrative excesses that waste resources that should be directed to patient care, fewer public tax dollars would be required to expand coverage to everyone. But most individuals and businesses should be concerned not only about their tax expenditures for health care; they should be concerned about their total health-care expenditures, both public and private. An increase in tax funding should not be objectionable when it is offset by an even greater reduction in private health-care spending.
In a universal system, rationing is determined primarily by the capacity of the system. A system that reduces administrative waste increases its capacity. We may be so averse to the words “tax” and “government rationing” that we may want to continue with a system that wastes more funds and results in greater rationing. But then again, maybe we’re ready to agree that rational policy should prevail over rhetoric.
Don McCanne MD President, Physicians for a National Health Program San Juan Capistrano