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March 10, 2009

Health-care reform

Barbara Shelly’s column “Too long delayed, health reform simply can’t wait” (3/6, Opinion) brought my simmer to a boil. A family loses a mom to catastrophic illness and, on top of that, loses their home because the insurance stopped when the mom was so sick she could no longer keep the job that provided access to health insurance?

It is unfathomable that we can bail out mortgages of people who borrowed too much to get a house bigger than they needed or could afford, and pay executives millions of dollars for making stupid or illegal decisions that have resulted in this huge economic mess, but we punish decent people trying to do the right thing who have the great misfortune of getting sick and dying.

Short of overhauling the whole health-care system (which desperately needs to be done), we could fast-track people into the Medicare/disability system when they can’t keep working because they are fighting for their lives.

Oops, guess we can’t afford that!

Susan Wyssmann
Kansas City

It was immediately after World War II that amid the bombed-out buildings and weak economy, the British adopted their nation’s health-care system.

In England (and other industrialized countries) productive citizens don’t have to worry about medical bankruptcy.

Rae Ann Nixon
Kansas City


Mark Robertson

England's National Health Service is a catastrophe, as is the case with virtually all other countries that have socialized medicine.
In fact, most of those systems are what is going bankrupt. See the book, "Lives at Risk," or Google England's National Health Service problems.
Many of the socialized countries are turning towards free market solutions for their sick systems.
Unfortunately the U.S. seems to be headed in the opposite direction.
Direct payments with health savings accounts and private charity for the poor are answers to our health care problems.

Mark Robertson


In the current Newsweek, conservative David Frum, editor of NewMajority.com (and a Limbaugh target) states, "We [the GOP] need to put free-market health-care reform, not tax cuts, at the core of our economic message. It's health-care costs that are crushing middle-class incomes." We should be able to intelligently cherry pick the best of Canadian, British, and French health-care models and somehow combine with free-market principles. There is something drastically wrong when Americans cannot obtain drugs from Canadian pharmacies, saving 40%, when these drugs come from the same manufacturers supplying U.S. markets. Vested interests have been controlling health-care in the U.S. and they must be repudiated.


The letter makes valid points about the need for some sort of reform, but the original Shelly article was based upon an erroneous conclusion.

"When medical bills are a leading cause of personal bankruptcy?"

The Harvard study on which this claim is based has been widely questioned by both sides of the issue, as it's methodology is extremely shaky. For example, the study classifies "uncontrolled gambling," "drug addiction," "alcohol addiction," and the birth or adoption of a child as "a medical cause," regardless of whether medical bills are involved. Further, even the study itself admits that only 27 percent of the surveyed debtors had unreimbursed medical expenses exceeding $1,000 over the course of the two years prior to their bankruptcy.

The problems with our current health care system DO need to be addressed, but relying on shady and questionable data to support your position is not the way to do it.


"OUR" health care system will NEVER get overhauled as long as "our" elected leaders like Rpy Blunt are getting paid by the insurance companies. As soon as I heard Blunt's rant on Saturday I knew he was in their pockets. Roy Blunt said that overhauling the system would be tantamount to what it looks like at the DMV with the long lines, well Mr. Blunt should know what that is like since one of the first thing's his son did when he got into office was to turn the DMV over to his friends to run.

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