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STRIVING FOR SAFE, EFFECTIVE CARE

No to care by committee - Sept. 5, commentary by Dr. David McKalip

Dr. McKalip's commentary would appear to be self-serving and provides inaccurate and biased information.

Yes, the federal government did mandate the utilization of beta blockers and antibiotics, which saved many lives. The utilization of quality indicators has improved health care outcomes and is based on the current best medical data. The utilization of quality indicators in health care has improved health care outcomes and led to advances in how care is provided, which has saved lives and contained cost.

Dr. McKalip's suggestion that we could solve the health care insurance problem by allowing individuals to buy health insurance in another state or allow tax deductions for health insurance completely misses the mark. Insurance policies are regulated and enforced in the individual state. Across-state-line purchases would only lead to a race to the bottom in the way of benefits and result in unscrupulous insurers taking advantage of individuals in other states. Tax incentives would do nothing for low-income families and not help those with pre-existing conditions.

The proposed health commission would be staffed by medical experts who would make recommendations based on the medical evidence. The commission would provide incentives to physicians to provide care that is proven to be safe and effective. This would limit unnecessary procedures and utilization of unnecessary, and expensive, testing that physicians financially benefit from.

Medicare and Medicaid are verging on becoming insolvent largely because of medical providers performing expensive and unnecessary procedures for their financial benefit. Cost containment, to save Medicare and Medicaid, is necessary. The proposed commission would serve both this purpose and the best interests of our nation's health!

Edward Briggs, St. Petersburg

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No to care by committee - Sept. 5, commentary by Dr. David McKalip

Numbers of those in need of health care are significant

I read with interest Dr. McKalip's missive concerning health care and I agree with his comment that insurance companies are currently and consistently rationing care. As all physicians will attest, insurance bureaucrats make life miserable for patients and physicians alike. We do not need any bureaucrats getting in the way of patient care.

However, his statement about government and charity being able to help the "small percentage" of folks who don't have insurance is naive and not based on reality.

I volunteer every Monday at the Clearwater Free Clinic seeing patients, and the folks who need care are not a small percentage at all. We see folks all day every day who are working two and three jobs and simply cannot afford health insurance. We see folks who are unemployed and are desperate for care to help their ill children. Many are embarrassed to be there. More than 40 million people without insurance does not equal a "small percentage."

I am strongly in favor of both a public option similar to Medicare as well as an insurance exchange reaching across state lines. Medicare beneficiaries are overwhelmingly happy with their coverage (folks forget that Medicare is the ultimate public option!). This is the only way that the insurance companies will actually behave. I am also in favor of federal laws prohibiting the pre-existing illness foolishness, annual or lifetime limits on care and the consistent trait of insurance companies to drop folks who have the temerity to get sick.

I would encourage Dr. McKalip to join Jeannie Shapiro, executive director of the Free Clinic, and all of her outstanding volunteers and work with us at the Free Clinic for a week. Perhaps he would better realize the scope of the problem.

Marty Landry, M.D., Largo

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No to care by committee - Sept. 5, commentary by Dr. David McKalip

Distortions hurt debate

There are so many distortions in this article by Dr. McKalip that they can't pass unchallenged. Where in any health care reform proposals is it clear that doctors will be punished for prescribing "needed tests and treatment"? The claim that government and insurers hold "all the money and power" ignores the power of major hospital systems and doctor groups which greatly influence reimbursement for care - not to mention all those lobbyists. (By the way, the neurosurgeons are not doing too badly).

He claims that the president proposes to give an Independent Medicare Advisory Committee "congressional powers." This would be news to members of Congress. Canadians would not recognize their system as one that routinely denies "lifesaving drugs for cancer." The vast majority of Canadian doctors and citizens are happy with their system. I wish we could say the same about ours!

We know a lot about the strengths and the weaknesses of our health care system. Most Americans also see the need for fundamental change. The deliberate distortions of physicians like McKalip do nothing but create fear and make a rational dialogue all but impossible. Why the Times continues to publish his articles is a mystery.

Dr. Howard Tuch, Tampa

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No to care by committee - Sept. 5, commentary by Dr. David McKalip

Unworthy of space

I am absolutely appalled the St. Petersburg Times would accept an opinion article from the racist neurosurgeon David McKalip regarding health care reform.

This is the same man who thought it was okay to pass along a photo of the president with a bone in his nose and had to resign his position as head of the Pinellas County Medical Association this past July (information you failed to mention in his short biography beneath the article).

He has proven publicly his opinion is worth absolutely nothing, yet you provide him editorial space to espouse rhetorical nonsense about care committees.

Martin L. Daugherty, St. Petersburg

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Online guidelines aid doctor, patient Sept. 7, commentary

A sound idea

Dr. Loren Bartels proposes a quite sensible idea: keep track of treatments and outcomes and put them in a database accessible to doctors so they and their patients can use them to determine which treatments are most effective.

Yet when that idea is proposed as part of health care reform it is denounced as the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it.

Ed Bradley, Lithia

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A disservice to doctors - Sept. 6, letter

Concern is warranted

I have a great deal of respect for the medical profession, and I am not complaining about our highly respected physicians who give their all to keep us healthy. Doctors work long, weary hours to care for us, but contrary to what the letter writer suggests, I do care.

I care because the cost of our medicines has gone up so dramatically in the past few years that many have to choose whether to get their prescription filled or buy food or other necessities.

I care because these "marketing tools" are driving up the cost of our prescriptions.

I care because one of these "marketing tools" would pay for perhaps a hundred prescriptions.

I care because if most of the medicines are already approved by the FDA, and subsequent educational materials are sent to physicians, why is it necessary to have more "marketing tools"?

Frances Druyor, Largo

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A dog, a rescue, true devotion - Sept. 7, story

An uplifting story

What a wonderful story about Mina Rest, her dog Penny and the real unsung heros, Jack and Dee Novoselski. What they did for Mina Rest was totally selfless and remarkable. It proves to me that people are inherently good.

I'm so pleased you ran this story on the front page. I will never tire of hearing about random acts of kindness such as this. Animal lovers like Jack and Dee make the world a much better place for all of us. Please continue bringing positive news like this to your readers.

I love it! Thank you, Alexandra Zayas, for a well-written piece.

Sharon Scheiblein, Hudson

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