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How to Slice Pork Against the Grain

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Regarding the front-page article "President's Plan Targets Nation's Culture of Debt," Feb. 19: Last year, President Bush targeted canceling "pork barrel" programs. The idea fell on deaf ears in Congress, with a weak response from Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Truly Congress could handle the deficit problem by not only canceling "pork barrel" programs, but by also canceling old or duplicated legislation, funded but no longer relevant.

What could we lose, except a few senators and representatives more interested in reinstating funds than in serving the legitimate needs of all United States citizens? Betty Spiers Sands, San Francisco A cure for health care

Regarding the front-page article "Clinton Pushes Limits in Bid to Expand Scope of National Health Care," Feb. 18: I find President Clinton's support of the Oregon Health Plan a direct contradiction to the goal of expansion. The plan expands Medicaid to include "all Oregonians living in poverty," while limiting services to each recipient.

A list of 688 medical conditions cited in the plan as reimbursable is limited in addressing the vast numbers of diseases. Also, severity of disease varies with each individual. Care considered "merely" important in one case is often essential in another case. Only those working directly with the individual patients are in a position to decide what care is "valuable to certain individuals."

Containing costs by controlling expensive technology will limit medical testing.

Will medical teams be compelled to draw lines through procedures dependent on high technology if the state deems the care unnecessary by refusal to pay? Less medical care for more people is not health-care expansion.

Mr. Clinton will be forced to choose between expansion or rationing. Mitzi Robertson, Loretto, Tenn.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.


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