The Baltimore Sun

Private care system leaves out too many

Wouldn't it be amazing if instead of a doctor's office being "horrified if you don't have coverage," as Robert Blendon, a health policy professor at Harvard University, suggests it should be, people were horrified by a health care system in which millions of Americans aren't able to get the care they need ("Clinton, Obama clashing on health," Dec. 26)?

Those who pay huge premiums for high-deductible insurance policies with large co-payments know that even having health insurance does not mean one can necessarily afford health care.

And even if patients can afford care, they still face hurdles concerning whether the doctor they choose accepts their policy and whether their insurance company will allow the treatment they need or decide, even in retrospect, not to pay for care received.

Private insurance companies exist solely to make a profit, not to provide quality care.

It's time to stop focusing on forcing people to purchase private health insurance and start focusing on creating a system in which all people can get health care when they need it.

Examples of highly successful universal care systems exist in other industrialized countries.

Providing subsidies and enforcing mandates to require the purchase of private insurance would cost money - money that could be spent providing care.

Dr. Margaret Flowers


The writer is a member of the Maryland Universal Health Care Action Network.

Insurance mandate aids private capital

Requiring all Americans to buy health insurance amounts to imposing a severely regressive tax, which would add to the financial stresses working Americans face while funneling more revenue directly to insurance companies.

The fact that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama express such brazen support for corporate boodle is breathtaking ("Clinton, Obama clashing on health," Dec. 26).

The rational, cost-effective solution is a government-funded health care system that is available to all.

The good health of all our people is, in fact, a common good.

The American people have shown support for universal, single-payer health care (for instance, 62 percent expressed support for such a plan in a 2003 Washington Post-ABC News poll).

Those who balk at the idea of government funding often cite specious reasons promulgated by the health industry, such as restricted choice or long waiting lists. The major media have a bad record of reporting those claims without mentioning readily available contradictory evidence, which is a disservice to the country.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam


Many can't afford to buy insurance

So after all these years of careful consideration, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's brilliant new "universal health care plan" is to have Congress pass a law requiring Americans to purchase a health care insurance policy or pay a penalty on their income taxes ("Clinton, Obama clashing on health," Dec. 26)?

What a moronic concept. If everyone could afford health insurance, wouldn't they have purchased a plan by now?

And in response, Sen. Barack Obama says, in effect, "We'll make health care more affordable by law."

Just how does he propose to do that?

I think Senator Clinton and Senator Obama had better think this through again.

David C. Stark

Bel Air

Zoning can boost affordable housing

I am writing to applaud the recent column by Dan Rodricks on the lack of affordable housing in Baltimore County and the sluggish efforts by the county's elected officials to improve the current situation ("County AWOL on affordable housing," Dec. 20).

I hope that Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. and the County Council will act on this important matter in the New Year.

Montgomery and Frederick counties and the city of Baltimore have passed inclusionary zoning legislation that requires developers under certain circumstances to create affordable housing for moderate- and low-income residents in tandem with market-rate housing.

Susan Middaugh


Did U.S. push Bhutto into heading home?

I pray that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto will not be a replay of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination, which set off World War I ("Grief and fury sweep Pakistan," Dec. 28).

From news stories, I have learned her decision to go home to Pakistan may have been sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

I am deeply upset that the blood of Ms. Bhutto may be on our hands as well. How I wish the United States would stay out of situations where we don't belong.

Not only was Ms. Bhutto seen as an ally of the United States, she was also a woman - which made her a thoroughly tempting target.

Bringing democracy to Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and who knows where else is a dangerous game, and one I wish my tax dollars were not funding during our so-called war on terror.

Would Ms. Bhutto have returned to Pakistan on her own, without the "support" of the Bush administration? Somehow I doubt it.

Will there ever be democracy throughout the Middle East? This I also doubt.

I just grieve that a beautiful, brave woman was brutally murdered.

I also dread the possibility of hearing the news that America bears some responsibility for her being gunned down.

Rosalind Ellis


Religion irrelevant to candidates' claims

Any candidate who wears his or her religion on his or her sleeve will not receive my vote.

I hold the view that one's religious beliefs are personal and should not be waved around like a flag.

The United States is a country of great diversity, and many of its citizens, old and new, are non-Christians and even nonbelievers.

These people contribute to our nation's enormous cultural and economic richness and don't expect their neighbors to share their beliefs.

I, for one, want to know how ethical a candidate is, how his educational background and professional experiences have shaped his life and influenced his thinking and, of course, who his advisers are and how he relates to co-workers, family and friends.

But I have no interest in whether he prays to Allah five times a day or goes to church every morning.

Janet Heller


Perhaps the paper is a waste of resources?

How nice to pick up The Sun the day after Christmas and read on its editorial page that my chosen existence as a single householder is, to the editors, a waste of natural resources ("Cohabiting for nature," Dec. 26).

Well, I guess I can go to the library for my newspapers from now on.

That will at least save us all some wasted paper.

Maxine Saunders


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