Letters to the Editor

New law needs sensible debate

Re Curtis Welbourne letter, "Distortions slanted against Obama," Feb. 11:

Mr. Welbourne, it is disingenuous of you to criticize my use of words from a statement made that you don't agree with. Letters to the editor are opinions - my opinion and your opinion. Mr. Welbourne, you have used the words "estimated" and "predicted" (which are also hypotheticals) in your letter in describing Dr. Richard Foster's testimony. You refer to his positive statements as being factual. These are a few of the actual statements that are predictions and/or estimates used in his testimony. Foster says the law will save Medicare more than $500 billion in the coming decade and will postpone exhaustion of the Medicare trust fund by 12 years, so it would run out of money in 2029, rather than 2017. In addition, he said, the reduction in the growth of Medicare will lead to lower premiums and co-payments for Medicare beneficiaries. But, Foster also said, these savings assume that the law will be carried out as written, and that may be an unrealistic assumption. The cuts, he said, could become unsustainable because they may drive some hospitals and nursing homes into the red, possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries. In addition, Foster stated on the costs issue, "I would say false, more so than true," and as for people getting to keep their coverage, "Not true in all cases."

Let us look at some statements that the head of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, Dr. Donald Berwick, made on the subject of Obamacare:

"Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable and humane must, must redistribute wealth away from the richer among us to the poorer and less fortunate. Excellent health care by definition is redistributional."

"The decision is not whether or not we will ration care - the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open."

"We can make a sensible social decision and say, 'Well, at this point, to have access to a particular additional benefit [new drug or medical intervention] is so expensive that our taxpayers have better use for these funds.'"

My questions at this point: Are Americans ready for a government-run program of income redistribution? Are we ready for a program of health care rationing? Are we ready to stop research to find cures for diseases that are untreatable at this point in time? Two experts testified on the future of health care reform, and it appears we have a grim outlook on the future of our health care system.

What I do know as a fact is that the Postal Service, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Medicare and Medicaid, and the Department of Energy are programs that are on the edge of bankruptcy. Mr. Welbourne, do you actually believe Americans should trust our government to run the health care system? In addition, the Obama administration has granted almost 1,000 exemptions from the proposed law. If this law is so wonderful, then why seek an exemption? I do believe something must be done to improve our health care system - everyone has a right to be insured, even if they have had or have a serious illness. These changes should have been made outside of government control. It is very important that all people perform their own research on health care reform so we may have a reasonable, cool-headed debate to determine how the proposed law will affect our children and grandchildren for years to come.