Los Angeles Times Opinion Piece, Letter to the Editor Address Issue of the Uninsured
A recent Los Angeles Times opinion piece and letter to the editor addressed the issue of the uninsured. Summaries of the opinion piece and letter appear below.
- Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times: Although concerns about terrorism and the war in Iraq have "dominated" this year, the U.S. health care system faces "pressures similar to those that inspired President Clinton's failed attempt to ensure universal coverage a decade ago," columnist Brownstein writes in a Times opinion piece. He writes that as health care costs increase, many employers have reduced or dropped coverage for employees. As a result, the number of uninsured individuals has increased, as has the "pressure on the few places that care for them, particularly emergency rooms at public hospitals and federally funded health centers," Brownstein writes. He adds that although federal lawmakers remain "mostly gridlocked over how to expand coverage" to the uninsured, two recent studies conducted by the George Washington University School of Public Health and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies "show that even without agreement ... practical steps are possible." The George Washington study indicated that "strengthening Medicaid and encouraging greater coordination among providers," and the Joint Center study recommended an expansion of asthma tests and more physical activity among children. "Ignoring (this) opportunity" to implement small reforms to address the issue of the uninsured, "while waiting for consensus on coverage, would be a form of political malpractice," Brownstein concludes (Brownstein, Los Angeles Times, 5/31).
- Stuart Schear, Los Angeles Times: A recent opinion piece written by Conrad Meier, managing editor of Health Care News and a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, "perpetuates the myth that those who live without health insurance don't suffer," Schear, a senior officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, writes in a letter to the editor of the Times. Schear adds that as a result of a lack of health coverage, uninsured individuals receive delayed diagnosis and care "with unfortunate results." In addition, Schear criticizes Meier for his characterization of U.S. census bureau estimates of the number of uninsured residents as "questionable or partisan." He writes, "Every administration, Republican and Democratic members of Congress and most serious organizations use this data" (Schear, Los Angeles Times, 5/31).