Free-market "cure" worse than the disease?
Re "Diagnosing Paranoia" [Potter's Field, July 11] and Jason DePrew's July 25 letter painfully admitting "Something clearly needs to change [in U.S. health care] I just wish I knew what": He and your readers should realize that the current U.S. health-care system -- where it is managed by private health insurers -- is actually the "Ponzi scheme" which he fears the most.
Change in the U.S. health-care system will come sooner rather than later, and that change will almost certainly involve private insurers and HMOs. However, I am not convinced that any privatized, for-profit health-care system will provide the best or the cheapest health care for the vast majority of Americans. Nor will it be the cheapest for business and industry.
When people in the U.S. think seriously about a government-run health-care system, their thoughts often are hampered by a built-in gut fear of paternalistic "big government." But those same Americans should also realize that the federal government has already given us Medicare, which is far more efficiently run than any competing HMO. In the meantime, those same Medicare HMOs have been intent on siphoning low-maintenance/low-cost healthy seniors away from Medicare by providing them with free massages and free health-club memberships -- while leaving Medicare stuck with the most expensive seniors, which include the old, the sick and the dying. This for-profit tactic by private insurers has greatly increased the overall cost of providing health care to seniors in the U.S., and it has made Medicare far less efficient than it would otherwise be if it had access to all those who are currently Medicare-eligible.
The recently enacted Medicare drug bill has further intentionally weakened Medicare by favoring private health-insurance plans and HMOs, and by preventing Medicare from negotiating drug prices. Nevertheless, in spite of such huge disadvantages, Medicare remains far more cost-effective than privately run health insurance.
In contrast to the muddled, costly and inefficient U.S. health-care system, the government-run Canadian health-care system is capable of providing vastly superior medical care to everyone at half the cost. If we had a Canadian-type health-care system, our current yearly health-care expenditure of $3 trillion would be cut in half!
However, those private, for-profit entities -- which would instantly be deprived of $1.5 trillion saved with the implementation of a well-managed, government-run health-care system -- will fight to the death to ensure the continuation of those fabulous profit windfalls.
-- Anthony Lintner, Brookline
Pittinger critics goosed
I read with interest the criticism of Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board Executive Director Beth Pittinger, and her remarks about the picketing in front of County Executive Dan Onarato's church over the killing of geese in North Park [Letters, Aug. 7].
My take on this is that we are more concerned about geese than we are the number of children being killed and abused in our county daily, or the genocide happening in the black and white communities. When Michael Vick was accused of being in a dog-fighting ring, there was more outrage by some than there is for the number of our young men and women being killed in Iraq. Is something wrong with this picture or our priorities? Am I missing something here that we care more about geese and dogs than we do about human life?
And in Ms. Pittinger's defense, she is a passionate crusader for the rights of others and has done a magnificent job for the community, as well as the police, in protecting those rights.
Come on, guys, we don't have enough to gripe and protest about in the way violence against the young and disadvantaged who are being brutalized in this country and county? Priorities!
-- Marsha V. Hinton, Chair
Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board
The Aug. 15 issue provided an incorrect end date for LTD Productions' run of the play Eighteen. The final performance of the play will take place on Aug. 26.
A caption in the main feature story for that same issue also misidentified the location of the sculpture Neptune. The statue is outside Phipps Conservatory in Schenley Park.