Paul Mauro: Health care rebuttal

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— Alas, we don't need more opinions unsupported by facts. Health care reform is a difficult enough problem without fanning the flames with unsubstantiated comments as Mr. McConnell (July 12: The Suicide Option) did when he launched into typical G-No-P rhetoric. To wit:

"The public health care option will be one more nail of free-market capitalism." Perhaps Mr. McConnell believes Medicare was such a nail? In fact, Medicare was a boon for free market capitalism. Look how many insurers jumped in with Medicare alternative plans and supplemental plans. I, for one, welcome a public option because the insurers have completely screwed America regarding health care. Have you noticed the only thing working in health care is the profits of the insurers and salaries of their CEOs?

He goes on: "The political left believes companies should run without profits." I ran a small business for years, and I sure appreciated what profits we had. So did all the other business people I knew. All the people I know with investments appreciate it when their holdings declare profits; some of them are Democrats. One more time: who exactly is it that doesn't like profits?

"The free market system that features competitive marketplaces and the profit motive is largely responsible for America's very high standard of living." Sounds good. Might even be accurate in a number of cases. However, free markets among medical insurers have been a substantial contributor to the health care problems we are trying to solve. Think about Medicare Part D, where competition is banned. Or think about insurers denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. Health care cannot be run solely for profit. Experience during the past 30 years has proven that doesn't work.

": Far greater in magnitude are the billons of dollars of fraud and abuse now rampant in Medicare and Medicaid." There is some merit to this comment. The only problem is, one needs to explore where the fraud and abuse comes from. Let's see: We have criminals, scammers, dishonest doctors (no denigration intended to the many, many honest ones), insurers with 30 percent and higher administrative costs; CEOs with $150 million salaries; the list is long. What is not clear is how Mr. McConnell supposes a public health option automatically makes this worse. It seems to me a little competition might help the insurers to improve service.

Then we read: "Private health care companies fight fraud and abuse while the government tolerates the waste." Say again? Who files legal claims against those committing Medicare, Medicaid and welfare fraud? Can he cite examples that private companies are doing the fighting? The doctors I have talked to do not appreciate the private insurers challenging every decision they make. Nor have I heard of anyone denied coverage of a medical procedure thanking the insurer for fighting fraud and abuse. Does he suppose people thank their insurer for denying coverage for a pre-existing condition? Perhaps Mr. McConnell meant there is insufficient prosecution of fraud and abuse; that we can all agree on.

Finally he gets to: "equal universal health care is not an entitlement." It is true that many Republicans would prefer to turn their back on those less fortunate, rather than to build a stronger support system. This, despite the fact all developed nations except ours do try to extend their medical safety net to all citizens. But then again, why can't all those 47 million uninsured just keep going to emergency rooms for a flu shot? As if the public isn't paying for that.

Paul Mauro

Steamboat Springs

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