Is a Patients' Rights Bill the Cure?

The New York Times
June 26, 2001

To the Editor:

Re "A Wrong Turn on Patients' Rights," by Marcia Angell (Op-Ed, June 23):

Dr. Angell is right when she says "a single-payer system that covers everyone" offers the only solution to this country's deepening health care crisis. As long as we permit corporate medicine to squander precious resources on marketing, excessive administrative costs and profits, patients will be left in the lurch.

We should do what every other industrialized country in the world does: guarantee health care to all. Although we support patients' rights legislation like the Kennedy-McCain bill, it won't provide insurance for the 43 million uninsured or prevent employers and H.M.O.'s from continuing to cut back benefits.

OLIVER FEIN, M.D. JOANNE LANDY New York, June 23, 2001

The writers are, respectively, chairman and executive director, Physicians for a National Health Program, New York chapter.

The concluding remarks from the original Op-Ed by Marcia Angell, M.D, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.:

"The answer is a single-payer system that covers everyone and more efficiently uses the resources we allocate to health care. That is tantamount to extending Medicare to all Americans. Medicare is not perfect, but it provides a uniform set of benefits to nearly everyone who qualifies, and it does so far more efficiently than the private employment-based system. Extending and improving Medicare would be simpler and more realistic than trying to shore up a fundamentally irrational system by measures like patients' rights bills."

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