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Don't blame lawyers for health care costs

Health care fix: What folks in bay area want | June 15, story

Don't blame lawyers for health care costs

I read this article with great interest. It is excellent reporting to get such a broad range of opinions. I am not sure lawyers come to mind when thinking about health care, except in the case of Ron Hytoff, the CEO of Tampa General Hospital.

I am a board-certified health care lawyer practicing in Florida for 40 years. I have heard the same argument now for four decades. Malpractice and tort reform is needed to help the doctors and hospitals reduce the cost of medical care. How incongruous to blame the legal system for the sins of the health care system. Lawyers are not the problem. While I am not proud of my profession's "ambulance chasing" image, whatever we do as lawyers does not cause doctors and hospitals to spend more health care dollars.

Florida has already instituted tort reform and substantially limited recovery for malpractice and negligence committed by doctors and hospitals. Texas has all but eliminated recovery for medical negligence. Yet the cost of serving a single Medicare patient in Miami and in McAllen, Texas, is triple the national average. In other words, tort reform has little impact on health care spending.

Doctors order more tests, deliver more treatment and provide more care for two reasons: The patient demands it and the doctor receives more reimbursement. Hospitals buy more equipment, use it more often and provide more procedures because that increases reimbursement. Doctors and hospitals don't need lawyers to help push health care costs up. They get plenty of assistance from the pharmaceutical, insurance and medical device companies.

In my experience, doctors treat their patients to help them, not to keep from being sued. They order the tests they think will help them diagnose and treat their patients.

I am certain Ron Hytoff is an experienced hospital administrator, but his attempt to blame the "legal system" for the problems of his industry and institution is disingenuous at best.

Jeffrey L. Myers, Odessa

Health care fix: What folks in bay area want June 15, story

Diet is a key element

I have been following the discussion on health care reform with much interest. Nearly half the people in the United States suffer from preventable chronic diseases. Many of the most common and costly conditions are linked to diet. The life expectancy of our children is declining due largely to excess weight and obesity. Regardless of the direction reform takes, the health of all Americans should improve as a result of our health policy choices. The vital and unique role that nutrition plays in improving and maintaining an individual's health as well as the health of all Americans should be explicit in U.S. health policy.

Nutrition intervention via the services of a registered dietitian can prevent or delay the onset and severity of many costly diseases and conditions. It is a better strategy to prevent excess weight and obesity than attempt to treat them. Nutrition is the cornerstone of prevention. Americans need access to high-quality health services provided by health teams that include registered dietitians. It is not just a fiscal imperative, it is the right thing to do.

Nadine Pazder, president, Florida Dietetic Association, Largo

Britain's caring system

The anti-health care reform people appear determined to brainwash Americans when it comes to the British and Canadian national health care. Let's see if, as a Brit, I can put the facts into perspective.

The British National Health Service was introduced by a Labor member of Parliament in 1945. It became a resounding success that has been copied by almost every industrial nation in the world. It is not socialism or communism; it is caring — caring for every man woman and child, rich, poor, employed or unemployed. And most of these countries have free choice. UK hospitals, for example, have both private and NHS sectors as well as private clinics and hospitals. They often intermingle when each need the other's help.

By no means is the NHS perfect. But no one dies because he cannot afford to visit a doctor, is refused treatment, denied medication or insurance.

My American wife experienced the NHS firsthand when she lived in England; she could not have received any better care in America but realizes she would have been bankrupt here.

I have doubts that President Barack Obama will succeed in his efforts to provide health care for all. I bless the man for trying, though, as I, my wife and family were blessed with the NHS.

Alan Ryan, Gulfport

A high price to pay

A senator — a Republican, of course — recently claimed that the United States has "the best health care system in the world."

One question, senator: In which other country are 60 percent of all bankruptcies wholly or partly caused by medical charges?

Nick Hobart, New Port Richey

We need a government plan

After reading comments on the editorial page on health care it is easy to see that many people writing them don't do any research. It is easy to find facts if you just go online and search. Here are a few that I found in a Congressional Research Service report to Congress, comparing our health care system to other industrialized nations:

We pay 50 percent more per capita for health care than the other nations which have some form of government-controlled health care.

We have a lower life expectancy than almost all of them.

We have a higher infant mortality rate than most of them.

They have more doctors per capita than we do and they get to see their doctor more often.

My conclusion is that insurance companies and employers don't need to be involved, and a government plan is the only plan that is going to be affordable to everyone in our country. We can afford to pay less, get better care, and live longer.

I voted and admire President Barack Obama, but his effort to get something passed in Congress by making too many compromises won't be a solution, and the next president will have to attack the same problem again.

M. Leslie Nichols, Safety Harbor

Bay Pines care is top-notch | June 12, letter

A wonderful asset

Like the letter writer, I am a Navy Vietnam veteran and am most grateful for my benefits at Bay Pines. My appointments have most always been on time or even early.

Unlike the letter writer, I have not had any type of operation at the VA, but have a number of friends who have had nothing but good experiences. I receive a number of prescriptions through the hospital, and I can order by phone with the medications arriving usually in a week or so by mail.

Everyone at Bay Pines is very helpful. The place is a wonderful asset to our community and veterans should be thankful that we have such a fine facility.

Dave Meling, Seminole

It's more than a barn, McCollum says June 16

How they behave

A politician builds a building and calls it a barn so as to save thousands of dollars in fees. This "barn" has a kitchen, bedrooms, and I would assume a bathroom.

If this politician skirts the law in this manner, don't you wonder what else he has done to make his fortune?

And doesn't this make you wonder how many other politicians skirt the law in this manner? And doesn't this make you think this is one reason most politicians are millionaires? Is it any wonder why we have "career politicians"?

Donald F. Kelly, St. Petersburg

Don't blame lawyers for health care costs 06/17/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 7:30pm]
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