Regarding the editorial "Wrong on Medicare-Republican tax cut might reap right prescription drug benefit" (Aug. 30, p. 38), I believe you've been in the sun too long.
The Republicans, and you, are wrong about your solution for providing prescription drug coverage to Medicare beneficiaries. You advocate an income deduction for the cost of private insurance to cover prescriptions. But those who most need the benefit, the poorest, can't purchase drugs now. Folks on Medicare are largely retired and on fixed incomes, and this plan won't put enough money in their pockets to pay for the drugs or the insurance riders.
If this is such a good idea, why don't we put all Americans on a tax plan that allows them a tax deduction for what they spend on their healthcare after age 65? That idea won't sell, because even the wealthiest people don't want to pay large medical bills in their senior years. Would senior, conservative members of Congress who are not independently wealthy give up their retirement programs or Medicare coverage for a healthcare tax deduction after age 65? That would lessen their tax burden, but it also would destroy their retirement incomes.
Ask an economics editor if the price of the prescriptions that generate the tax deduction would decrease under the plan.
The only advantage of your "less costly" suggestion is that those who pay large tax bills-who also generally support the Republicans-won't have to pick up still larger tax bills.
It is unfair that the fees paid to surgeons and internists who treat Medicare patients with innovative therapies and increasingly expensive equipment are controlled, whereas the companies that sell the pills these doctors prescribe are not. If the drug companies and medical equipment vendors can sell their products in patent-protected markets, at uncontrolled prices, physicians and hospitals should collaborate on finding more-efficient ways to deliver their services. For the most part, physicians, and at least not-for-profit hospitals, don't pay dividends or advertise in magazines, as drug and equipment vendors do.
Don't shill for the Republican tax idea unless you think about it more. Talk to some real physicians who treat Medicare patients outside of Lake Forest, Ill.