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America's Health-Care Debate

Regarding the article "Doctors Try to Shape Clinton's Program to Reform Health Care," March 26: As a physician I am embarrassed at the actions of my colleagues as reported by the author. For too long the AMA has promoted physicians' interests to the detriment of our patients' increasingly unmet needs.

AMA physicians who still support the status quo ought to spend less time lobbying in Washington and more time listening to their patients' experiences of exclusion from the current system. Then perhaps they could contribute to the dialogue about health-care reform rather than being regarded as a member of a special-interest group. Marsha C. Holleman, Houston, Texas

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The author of the article "Winners and Losers in Clinton Program," March 23, says that the present plans to reduce the cost of medical care in the United States are wishful thinking. I believe that the United States' medical bill could be brought down dramatically with simple legislation that could be implemented almost immediately.

In 1987 the administrative cost (mostly due to paperwork) of medical care in the United States was an outrageous 24 percent. I am sure that figure is higher today.

In Canada, which has a semi-socialized system, it was 11 percent; most European countries are 7 percent to 9 percent.

Legislation limiting administrative costs to 10 percent for each hospital, health clinic, or health facility would not only save 14 percent but, since these administrative costs are reflected in each X-ray, blood test, hour in the operating room, and overall hospital charge, the savings would undoubtedly double.

This would reduce the medical bill in the United States by close to 30 percent.

American medicine no longer exists for the benefit of health care for the people; it exists to provide jobs to a small but very vocal bureaucracy of health-care administrators. Yale J. Berry, Boston

The article "A Formula for US Health-Care Services," March 26, states that: "Everyone would be required to have health insurance, and to pay their appropriate share of the cost."

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I neither want nor need health insurance. If the government wants me to buy health insurance, it's going to have to tax me for the money. And I have no doubt it will do just that.

Whatever happened to individual liberty and the right of free-thinking citizens to choose how to live their lives without government interference? David Sims, Cincinnati

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