Market cannot cure what ails health care
As a practicing physician for almost 40 years, I read with sheer incredulity the column "Cut health costs through market innovation" (Commentary, Oct. 7).
The column advocates "using innovation to make health care cheaper and more accessible." But the basic reasons U.S. health care costs continue to rise each year at an alarming rate are the fact that we have an aging population and the continuing introduction of new, high-tech procedures and medications. Market innovation will not change these dynamics.
Indeed, some of the statements and recommendations in the article are mind-boggling. Here are just a few:
"Let's deregulate medical care so that providers can find innovative ways to deliver high-quality care cheaply."
Please note here how well deregulating the financial sector has succeeded.
"Universal coverage sounds appealing, but it means that government will be running the trains."
In fact, the government-run Medicare program spends 95 cents of every dollar on direct patient care and only 5 cents on administration. By comparison, the private medical insurance industry spends only 80 cents of every dollar on direct patient care and 20 cents of every dollar on administrative costs, which include million-dollar payouts to CEOs, dividends to stockholders and huge advertising budgets.
Universal coverage modeled after Medicare would free up $300 billion a year for direct patient care and provide basic health care coverage for all Americans.
Dr. Leon Reinstein, Baltimore
Credits won't secure access to treatment
Sen. John McCain's proposed $5,000 tax credit for people to buy health insurance is a futile gesture on two counts ("Gloves stay on," Oct. 8).
For one thing, $5,000 would not buy decent family coverage. For another, tax credits only help people who have money to spend in the first place and owe income taxes at least as great as the credit.
The trouble with our present economy is that too many people do not make enough money to do so.
So the people whose health care is most precarious would not benefit greatly from this gesture and would still be shivering on the brink of disaster.
Katharine W. Rylaarsdam, Baltimore
Let state leaders sacrifice salaries
Forgive me if I missed this in the list of potential cuts to the state budget, but I didn't notice any mention of the salaries of our elected leaders among the options ("State weighs cuts in critical needs," Oct. 9).
Are they too sacred to pay their fair share for the downturn in Maryland's economy?
I thought all of us were in this together.
Or is it just the poor suckers who have to bear the brunt of these crises?
Timothy Kjer, Hunt Valley
Kindness to animals wins more affection
I was so happy to hear that Spring Meadow Farms is halting its pig wrestling contests ("Farmer cancels pig-wrestling contests," Oct. 7).
I was equally disappointed to hear those same pigs, saved from the stress of pig wrestling, will now be roasted for dinner.
I would like to suggest to Stan Dabkowski that the benefits of the good publicity from allowing those pigs to live out their lives at a sanctuary would do more to enhance his farm's reputation than throwing a pig roast.
I encourage him to do this kind gesture, and I know the farm would get lots of good publicity for its kindness.
Just look at the good publicity the president gets when he pardons a turkey on Thanksgiving.
Jamie Cohen, Baltimore
The writer is a volunteer for Farm Sanctuary, an animal advocacy and shelter group.
At least we're getting less junk mail now
I'm reminded of a hidden benefit of the credit crisis every time I open my mailbox: Credit card companies have stopped sending me annoying applications for new cards ("Bush signs financial rescue bill," Oct. 4).
If the shortage of credit results in a massive reduction in the amount of paper in our landfills, maybe the next few years won't be so bad.
Michael Roth, Ellicott City