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President Bush's health-care plan just a call for more Band-Aids

Re: National health care.

The drug company, Johnson & Johnson should be preparing for increased production. President Bush's new budget calls for more and more Band-Aids.

When will our government learn to solve problems instead of covering them over with the duplicity of token gimmicks? The sore still festers and worsens. Antibiotics won't cure; only surgery will stop the disease from infecting and dividing more and more of American society.

The self-induced blindness and feigned deafness of the White House has not only created an intolerable height of ineptness, but the most frightening and dangerous period of democracy.

M. M. Taylor, Seminole

My health insurance experience due to my having been a life underwriter since 1939 tells me that the medical plan being offered by President Bush will not work. There are many reasons for my saying this, however, let me mention just one _ the main one.

Whether the government gives out payment vouchers or tax credits, it leaves the purchase of proper coverage to the citizen.

The majority of citizens are not qualified to determine the proper plan to purchase, much less to interpret the fine print of benefits restrictions.

This leaves the citizen at the mercy of some (sorry to say there are too many) con artist insurance salesman.

Nothing but a national health plan will do.

Ralph B. Gonzalez, Tampa

For shame! For shame!

So you are going to cut pharmacy benefits for people who are barely subsisting on a minimal $500 per month. They will end up in our not-for-profit hospitals, or worse yet, in one of our for-profit nursing homes that would like to eliminate malpractice suits.

Perhaps their solution would be to declare bankruptcy. They could stop paying their rent and maybe buy their medication.

This entire fiasco relates back to the work ethic. Come on Florida legislators, figure out a better way to cut expenses. That's what you are elected for!

Dot and Dan Truesdell, Dunedin

How much longer is it going to take before our government realizes it can no longer in good conscience be influenced by the special interest groups whose greed dictates their opposition to national health insurance for every citizen?

The suggestion that with such a plan people will no longer have a choice of doctors is a scare tactic to discourage people from supporting it.

All doctors would be under the same rules and cost caps, etc., so logic alone would show no need to curtail choice.

Most importantly, hospitals and other institutions, including pharmacies, could be more easily monitored re: cost-shifting or excessive costs. Because of this dishonesty and greed by some, the insured are being ripped off.

Knowing a Canadian lady and a British gentleman, one does not have to wait for treatment or surgery in their countries in life-threatening situations. That's just another fallacy used by the lobbyists against national health insurance.

It is time Congress shows some evidence of intellect and compassion and does something vitally needed for the people of this country for a change.

To do nothing is to passively condone discrimination at its worst; i.e., the "haves" get the best care and the "have nots" get no care or mediocre care at best.

What happened to the family of the little child in Kissimmee who has leukemia is a national disgrace. It is unconscionable when insurance premiums were increased 357 percent because of certain diseases or chronic illnesses and shows that the greedy care more about dollar signs than vital signs.

Everyone overlooks another very important fact that policies have a maximum lifetime benefit which is reduced to pitifully low amounts upon retirement. When excessive claims are sent in, this coverage is soon depleted and in seeking new coverage with another company, premiums are so excessive that more and more people cannot afford the premiums; so needed care can bankrupt families or people must suffer and die because they simply cannot afford the care. That is a sad commentary for this country.

Thank God for the doctors who do regard their patients' well-being as their primary goal. They show compassion and empathy for our physical and economic needs as we seek care.

Doris L. Hatfield, New Port Richey

Why do hospitals advertise on billboards and in newspapers? With the high cost of health care this would be one way to cut expenses.

Unlike a vacation resort, we usually don't choose to go to a hospital. When necessary we go to the one our doctor is affiliated with, or in an emergency, the nearest one.

If hospitals feel the need to advertise, giving excellent care is the way. Word of mouth is still the best advertisement.

Shirley H. Lavander, Tarpon Springs

National health care is 60 years overdue.

Yes, I'd gladly pay $1,000 in yearly taxes for health care. I am paying twice that amount now.

I don't blame the insurance companies so much as I do the medical and pharmaceutical empire. Too much is spent on research; there is no need for 50 different painkillers _ one or two will do.

The 11 years longer lifespan only hurts the upcoming generation. They will have to work till the age of 75 to collect Social Security.

All crime-related casualties could be treated at nearby military hospitals. The fight on drugs could be won by the military helping our hard-working policeman patrolling streets, schools and wherever needed. Children under 16 should be off the streets by 9 p.m.

Jo White, Pinellas Park

Re: Loophole lets some insurance premiums soar.

After reading your Jan. 29 article on the plight of the couple whose insurance premiums became impossible due to their daughter's condition, I feel compelled to state the following:

This great country could and should lead the world with a government-sponsored and controlled health-care system that would provide health care for all.

America could and should lead the world but, due to the greed of the insurance industry and the position of the American Medical Association, it won't.

What a shame!

Victor Russell, North Redington Beach

Appreciate your airing of Gov. Chiles' proposed health care program. Indeed, he must have had the advice of all the lamebrains in the Legislature to advise him on this plan _ a plan devised to appease the insurance industry, to leave little emphasis on cost containment (one of the greatest needs) and a fragmentation of services to be shared by government and business. Who needed him to announce this ridiculous health care plan?

The Legislature spent $300,000 on a task force to study this problem and came up with a plan almost identical to Gov. Chiles'. Neither is adequate; neither is equitable. Both are heavily loaded administratively and neither will encompass all Florida citizens. Both have ignored the only viable plan being offered _ that of House Bill 1, Senate Bill 92.

Again, I'd like to jar the memory of all voters: Remember the ignoring of Florida citizens' health needs and vote these bums out of office at the very first opportunity. It is obvious they do not care about the children, the elderly, the handicapped or the poor.

They totally ignore the fact that an all-encompassing, equitable health care plan has long been found and used by Canada. It has been successfully used for years, takes care of cost containment and shares costs with citizens according to their ability to pay. Instead they choose to propose Band-Aid therapy for a gaping wound needing total and corrective treatment.

This governor and this Legislature cannot come face to face with the health care crisis of today and refuse to give it number one priority.

M. L. Wiedman, member, Florida Universal

Health Care Committee, Clearwater

Along with millions of others, I came to Florida to spend my retirement years, hopefully without the need to worry that my funds might give out as the cost of medical care runs away. Despite President Bush's "new health plan" as he tries to take billions of dollars away from Medicare, it is obvious that insurance companies will raise their rates for supplemental insurance which will completely eat up any "savings."

Also, he has said nothing about prescription drugs whose cost has far outrun the inflation figures issued by our government. Indeed, in many cases the cost of these vital drugs can even exceed the cost of a visit to the doctor! (Ironically enough, in the Feb. 7 Times, Don Addis had a most appropriate cartoon. It showed a poor citizen digging into a garbage can behind a pharmacy shop in hopes that she might find her necessary medication.)

Walter Jinga, Clearwater

Re: Universal national health care _ a dead issue.

In this political year, not a day passes by without some long discourse by the media, politicians and misguided activists about the need for a universal national health-care system. The systems of Canada and Western Europe are often mentioned. Bring in a little reverse racism by naming South Africa and proponents believe that they have a cause celebre.

Humbug! Universal national health care in the United States as practiced in other countries is as dead as prohibition. The reason is simple: the cost, estimated to be $150-billion. The American people will never pay the price. (Gas at $3 a gallon or a 15 percent value added tax _ you must be kidding!) Of course, everybody would love to be covered for nothing, but that is just a fantasy.

As an alternative, some of the more innovative politicians suggest that we do away with insurance companies and pour all that money into a centralized government coffer so that these bureaucrats can manage the funds. If you believe that this will improve the system, you must like the efficiency of our governmental operations.

There is no question that there is a crisis in our health-care delivery system. While it is the best in the world, it suffers from unconscionable burdens imposed by third parties which are causing the system to teeter on the brink of disaster.

Let me give you some proposals to straighten out this mess:

1. Every user of hospital services must be forced to pay cost plus a small profit, including government, be it federal, state or local. No more below-cost deals.

2. Indigence must be reasonably defined and government must pay for it. If it takes an increase in taxes, so be it.

3. People with terminal illness, be they infants or elderly, must be allowed to die without spending millions of dollars. That may be cruel but unless you are willing to pay for a hopeless cause, it is realistic.

4. The costs and profits of all health-care providers must be controlled. That includes hospitals, nursing homes, physicians, drug companies, etc. That is the price that government must demand in bringing the system into focus.

5. Huge damage awards for malpractice cases must be made a thing of the past. Remember, these awards are not paid by the physicians or the hospitals but by you, the consumer. Yes, some of these malpractice acts are horrifying but why should we, the consumers, pay for them? Take their license away in extreme cases, but don't hit me.

6. Finally, do away with the unbelievable amount of paperwork and tests done for legal purposes. That will save a bundle.

If the government would implement these suggestions, then all our citizens could be covered and served by our excellent health-care system. All the other patchwork suggestions and pipe dreams will do little, if anything, to improve the present system.

Gary Silvers, Largo

A few years ago, the elderly of this country fought successfully to get the Medicare Catastrophic Act of 1988 repealed. They had good reasons for doing this. For example, there was no provision for long-term nursing or long-term home care. Yet many elderly were paying up to $1,600 a year for a plan they did not want or need.

After being refused twice the past year _ for unfair reasons _ for long-term home care, I believe the only hope for many elderly who fear financial ruin due to long-term illness is for the government to operate a plan for this, with people who choose it paying a reasonable premium. This would be part of a national health plan.

The president recently opposed such a plan. However, I believe it is a must for the elderly who fear financial ruin due to long-term illness.

John G. Tighe, New Port Richey

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Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, 33731. They should be brief and must include the handwritten signature and address of the writer.

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