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Letter to the Editor: Health care cost concerns

Monday, April 30, 2012

As an advocate for health care reform, I have issues with Dr. Michael Wulfers' recent letter. He proposes high deductibles and health savings accounts as solutions for the soaring cost of health care. These are panaceas and do little to address the cost issue. Dr. Wulfers proposes slashing Medicaid and relying on charity to help the poor. Yet a statewide group called Missouri Health Care For All, a coalition of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders, are advocating for more federal involvement and was formed because charities are simply overwhelmed by soaring health care costs.

A recent study concluded that hospitals perform far too many unnecessary tests and procedures. I personally experienced this recently, when I was sent to the emergency room with what had been diagnosed as the flu by a doctor who felt I needed to replenish electrolytes. At the hospital I was again told I had the flu, but was subjected to two hours of tests, including X-ray and MRI. Insurance was billed more than $6,000 for my case of flu.

Medicare and Medicaid are fleeced mercilessly by durable medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies whose lobbyists dole out generous amounts of money in Washington to prevent competition in the procurement process. Hospitals invest millions in opulent facilities, billboards, advertising and, yes, lobbying that could best be redirected to diagnostics and treatment, which would lower costs and save lives.

WILL RICHARDSON, Jackson