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Look at Canada, not UK, for single-payer example

Jonathan Gress-Wright likens single-payer health care to the British National Health Service (“Even if single-payer costs less, it’s a bad idea,” July 20). That's the wrong idea. The NHS is a system somewhat like our VA health care in which the government manages everything and provides treatment. That is not what is involved in single-payer, a system like Canada's in which people go to the doctor of their choice, in whatever private or group practice is the doctor's choice, get treated, and go home, while the doctor's office submits a bill to the government and is paid.

I cannot agree with Mr. Gress-Wright that the benefits of single-payer are meager. Among other things, it would cover everybody. Currently, about 30 million people are uninsured nationwide with something like 30,000 preventable deaths a year in consequence. Those people and their families matter. Moreover, a properly organized single-payer system would be able to set reasonable limits on the prices drug companies charge, cutting astronomical profits to rational levels and saving many families from medical bankruptcies and inability to treat illness effectively. Both economic and medical outcomes would be better.

Both Physicians for a National Health Program and National Nurses United advocate strongly for single-payer, and I urge anyone who wants more information to visit their websites. Beyond question a national system would be more efficient than a state system, but Canada started with a single forward-looking province. If Maryland can lead the nation, good, but it needs to control costs and improve public health for its own sake.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam, Baltimore

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