To the Editor:
Democrats contend that quality, affordable health care should be a right whereas Republicans contend that it should be a privilege. Thus, it is this fundamental difference that is preventing America from having any kind of universal health care system, for-profit or not-for-profit (single payer). Incidentally, all other advanced industrialized countries have had single payer systems now for any years, with overwhelming majority acceptance by both patients and health care providers.
In 1992 Republicans and the trillion-dollar health insurance industry opposed Pres. Clinton's universal for-profit health care system proposal, contending that "the market" would work to solve this problem, and it failed to pass.
Well, eight years later my question to is this, "Where is this 'better way?'"
Since 1992 Congress has not done anything of any substance to resolve this issue. Thus, today 42.6 million Americans do not have any health insurance, an increase of five million since 1992, sadly and inexcusably 10 million of whom are children; and the number of uninsured is increasing at the alarming rate of one million per year. Also, at least 31 million are dangerously underinsured; multi-millions are fearful of losing the health insurance they now have; health care costs are rising far above the rate of inflation; even those with health insurance do not have the right to choose their own health care providers and sue for malpractice; doctors are being told how to practice medicine by HMO clerks. And the fact that this is occurring at a time of large surpluses and unprecedented prosperity is inexcusable. WE CAN AND WE MUST DO BETTER THAN THIS!
While simply placing everybody under Medicare would be far and away the best solution, it is simply not politically feasible. I believe Sen. Paul Wellstone's proposal has the best chance of becoming law because it is voluntary for each state; it permits each state to choose the kind of health care system it prefers, for-profit or single-payer; it requires that coverage be at least as good as the coverage all congresspersons now have, 72 percent of the cost of which is being paid for by the taxpayers; and it gives legitimacy to the Tenth Amendment, an Amendment Republicans strongly support.
Milton A. Braun,