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Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network

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Sample arguments for letters to the editor on health care issues

On privatizing Medicare:
Privatizing Medicare moves us in the wrong direction. It would spend public money on insurance company bureaucracy, high executive compensation, and private shareholder profits, leaving much less to pay for health care. The myth is that private companies are automatically more "efficient" than government agencies. The fact is that administrative expenses of the Medicare program now are only 2% of the total cost. For private insurers, administrative expenses in the 10-12% range are typical.

On the plans of the Bi-partisan Commission for Medicare:
The proposed "reforms" for Medicare are based on a simple plan - shift some the cost of health care from the Medicare program to the private budgets of the sick and their families. This is not just speculation. In their world wide web presentation they said, "Today, beneficiaries pay nearly 30 percent of their health care costs from their own pockets. ... In the future, out-of-pocket costs are expected to rise." They expect the cost of medical care to rise, and they think they have solved the problem if the Medicare program pays for less. Raising the age of eligibility for the program is only one proposed way of making the sick pay.

On the Patients' Bill of Rights:
The various bills propose a right to see medical specialists, a right to appeal insurance company decisions about medical care, a right to access your own medical information, and even (in the most radical version) the right to sue your insurance company if they don't deliver on the coverage they promised. All of these rights are meaningless without the basic right to necessary medical treatment. That is, the are meaningless to the 43 million uninsured and to the additional millions who are under insured, and to the further millions who will become uninsured at the first economic downturn. What we need is the right to health care, not just the right to whatever health care we can afford.

On an HMO "horror story":
This HMO horror story is just one example of what's wrong with a bottom-line health care system that puts profits ahead of patients. These companies do not exist to provide medical care. They exist to make money by denying medical care. If we got all the profit motive and the outside administrators out of our hospitals and doctor's offices, we should be able to provide affordable health care for everyone. We might be able to catch up to every other advanced country in the world by creating national health insurance and making medical fraud and price-gouging a federal crime.

On medical savings accounts:
There is no question that the current hodgepodge of employer, private, government, and no medical insurance is completely wrong and should be drastically reformed. The real question is the direction of that reform.

Medical savings accounts are a favorite reform scheme of the Republican Party and the American Medical Association. The basic idea is to set up a financial reward for those who manage to stay well. The other side of that coin is punishment for those are unlucky enough to become sick or injured. This plan is consistent with the every man for himself, dog-eat-dog vision of a perfectly competitive society.

There is a another vision of society based on the idea that we are all in this together. The principle is that the strong and whole take care of the sick and injured, recognizing they are lucky to be strong and whole, and that one day they may be sick and injured themselves. The plan consistent with this vision of society is a single-payer national health insurance, financed by taxes, making access to necessary medical care a right, not a privilege of private wealth.

Those are the opposing directions. Where do you want to go today?