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National Medicare is the answer, not the bogeyman

Letter to the Editor
Palm Beach Post
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The writer of "Candidates give too few details on universal care" (Dec. 19 letter) marshals forceful arguments based on false assumptions.

1) "A national plan would undoubtedly require restrictions on doctors' incomes ... " The universal health-care plan drawn up in HR 676 would have the contrary effect. The U.S. National Health Insurance Act, if enacted, would eliminate the excessive drainage of money that has nothing to do with providing care. The huge sums now going to the sales forces, advertising budgets, lobbying campaigns, shareholder dividends, and huge executive salaries and bonuses would be saved. These expenditures are the root cause of the present attempt to reduce the fees Medicare pays doctors. Their elimination would halt the process. The writer's use of the word undoubtedly magnifies the assumption's baselessness.

2) "In a national plan, millions of Americans would not be able to obtain the same level of medical care they now enjoy ... " I can't calibrate the level of care the 47 million uninsured Americans now enjoy. I do know, from my experiences on the lecture platform, that the over-65 generation feels blessed with the level it enjoys. When the question is put, the response is a practically unanimous, enthusiastic "God bless Medicare!" The goal of the plan is to make everyone lucky enough to be included in that same plan.

3) "It is bad enough that Congress refuses to deal with the Medicare ... crisis, but to ask them to legislate a national health insurance plan as a replacement ... is hard to imagine ... " I agree. It is hard to imagine, since the proposal isn't to replace it but to make it Medicare for everyone. He is wrong about the "huge tax increase that would be required." According to the Congressional Budget Office, eliminating all of the excessive administrative spending in our current system would save up to $400 billion. The prospect of a huge tax increase scares people, but the reality is that there is no need for it.

Let's stop muddying the waters and trying to scare people with nonexistent goblins. The urgent need is the adoption of the same type of responsible program the rest of the developed nations have. We can't afford to allow our elected officials to propose feeble patchwork instead of the expansion of Medicare. Let's demand a show of leadership that will get us a system already in operation that we know works well and that can easily become the entire, one-tier national system.

H. DAVID PRENSKY
Palm Beach