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Letter: McMillan Column a Compilation of Distortion and Innuendo

I generally enjoy reading Robert McMillan’s column, although I occasionally disagree with him. The column in the Aug. 21 issue of the Syosset-Jericho Tribune, however, was such a compilation of distortion and innuendo that I find that I must comment. I am not a health care expert, but, I listen to experts and I read the papers. I would encourage everyone to do the same and form their own opinions based on facts and not on prejudices. One of my sources is The New York Times which in an Aug. 23 editorial refutes or corrects much of what Mr. McMillan has written.

Now to the Robert McMillan column. In the first paragraph he questions “…whether the country is ready for nationalization of our largest industry-the $2.4 trillion healthcare business?” Nationalization? That’s a scary word. What is McMillan saying? I have heard the president repeat over and over that anyone who has a health care plan now will be able to keep it. If he means the “public option,” then lets talk about a public option, not nationalization.

In the second paragraph he tells us that “the subject is very complex and difficult to comprehend because of the nature of the industry.”.However, seemingly contradicting himself he tells us we should tell our members of Congress what we think about the bills. (The implication is that we should tell our members of Congress what Robert McMillan thinks about the bill.)

The third paragraph tells us that 80 percent of Americans are satisfied with their health care, therefore maybe we shouldn’t tamper with it. Yet both Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree that the health care system needs fixing. They just can’t agree on how to fix it. And once again Mr. McMillan states that “the proposal for a ‘public’ or government-run insurance option, in my judgment, means the end of our private sector health insurance businesses … “It is my opinion, on the other hand, that the health insurance industry is ripping off the public. It’s about time that there was something done to slow down the excessive rate of growth, the outrageous practices like refusing to renew if someone gets a serious illness and in many cases outright refusing to pay for things that you might have believed you were insured for. And we are not even talking about cherry-picking clients. Fortunately, I have Medicare coverage so I can go to any doctor I want to go to and get excellent treatment. Many people don’t even realize that Medicare is a government program as is my Veterans Administration insurance. Both are head and shoulders better than most private plans.

In the next paragraph, McMillan discusses how many people cannot afford insurance or should not be provided for. Included in that list is the fact that “11 million are illegal aliens.” The NY Times, which cites census data, states that somewhat over 6 million are illegal, but, nevertheless, the Congressional committee members have stated over and over and it is explicitly stated in the proposed bills that no illegal alien will be eligible for health care. McMillan further states that we should not “scrap a health care system capable of supporting 279 million Americans just to provide coverage for 27 million.” Read The NY Times editorial I reference above. It is very clear that this system is not doing the job. Furthermore, if we don’t fix the system now, most people on private health insurance will not be able to afford it in the future nor will their employers (if they have employer-paid insurance) be able to afford it as medical costs rise far faster than the rate of inflation.

Mr. McMillan touches all of the bases in his opinion article. The real zinger is when he explains that “…your ‘end of life’ is managed in accordance with government regulations.” This is one total distortion that is repeated by people who should know better including members of Congress. I have heard the president state repeatedly that no one is going to be forced to do anything against his/her will including meeting with anyone regarding end of life counseling. What has been said that as an option will be included in Medicare (which incidentally was proposed by a Republican Congressman) that will allow an individual to meet with someone who can counsel them on living wills and related matters. This is an option that an individual can select, not a government mandate.

I hope that Mr. McMillan’s future columns on healthcare are more evenhanded and clearer than this one. An Opinion should still be based on facts.

Seymour Weinstein