Letters to the Editor

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HEALTH: Free care is not the answer

Letter by Beth Woodbury Hart, Puyallup on March 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm with No Comments »
March 22, 2013 2:22 pm

Re: “Where’s care and compassion?” (letter, 3-20).

The writer, a physician, sees the need for “universal free medical care.” Universal health insurance is not the answer to every problem. And universal free medical care is a really bad idea. Who’s going to pay for it? How?

The doctor describes AB, a 56-year-old custodian with chronic back pain. He is caught between a rock and a hard place. If he continues lifting 100-pound tables, he’ll continue having back pain. But if he quits his job, he’ll lose his health insurance.

The solution is not to give AB free treatments, which would probably not cure the back pain anyway. The solution is for AB to train for a job that does not require heavy lifting. His employer should provide him with enough sick leave so that he can rest – usually the best treatment for bad backs – and retrain. There is no magic pill.

We already have several taxpayer-subsidized health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and worker’s compensation. Combine them all together, create one and only one subsidized HMO and place it under private management. If it works, expand coverage. If it doesn’t, go back to the drawing board.

To quote Dickens’ satirical masterpiece, “Little Dorrit,” we need to act on the “most energetic notions” of How to Do It, and not give quarter to the “great political science” of How Not to Do It. The federal government has been spending trillions of dollars every year and not accomplishing anything. Giving the feds more money and power is How Not to Do It.


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