As a practicing urologist, I was infuriated by Rep. Pete Starks comment, Ive been in this business for 34 years and theyve (physicians) never been happy with what we've given them" ("Fighting for their share," March 12, p. 6).
Stark, like other liberals, fails to realize two very important things: First, Medicare has gotten exactly what it has paid for, and that is a dramatic prolongation of longevity of retired people because of dramatic medical and scientific discoveries, the result of lifelong work by a huge number of talented and dedicated doctors providing medical and surgical care. The second fact is that Medicare was fatally flawed from its inception. The pay-as-you-go entitlement is falling victim to its own success, allowing people to survive for long periods of time in an unproductive (retired) state.
People such as Stark are too stubborn to realize that we are finally reaching the point when we cant afford to keep people in a vegetative state forever and expect a proportionately smaller, younger generation to support an older, doddering generation.
What needs to happen is to double the Medicare tax and use 100% of the increase as a savings account for the taxpayer. The account would not be used until retirement, and could only be used by the individual. If the person died before the account was used up, the balance would go to a designated heir.
Stark needs to leave officethe sooner the better. He is largely responsible for much of the rising overhead cost in medical-care delivery today. It is very evident he hates physicians as much as we hate him, and a showdown is under way that may ruin medicine in the U.S. If I had to redo my career, I would have done plastic surgery or cosmetic dermatology. Treating peoples vanity is more valued than treating their illness, andfortunately for cosmetic doctorsis not covered by Medicare.
George Fournier Jr.
Yankton (S.D.) Medical Clinic