Letters: Digital records, small biz, taxes

Letters in a computer with red mailbox flag


Kai Ryssdal: Time, as the song says, for your letters. We've gotten a pile of them the past couple of weeks. The topic hogging the headlines was health care. And so a lot of your comments focused on that, too. We covered the president's visit to the Cleveland Clinic last week. Mr. Obama and others have said it's a model for both quality care and lower costs. A model perhaps the government could follow.

Scott Duemler, a family physician from Grand Rapids, Mich. only wishes it was that easy.

SCOTT DUEMLER: The health-care system is very complex, and very personal; few people who study it and know it well will offer good or simple solutions. If someone says "just do this" -- you need to ask about all the other downsides of that option -- there are bad consequences to every option, including doing nothing.

Nothing is what some would like to do when it comes to digitizing medical records. The president is pushing hard for electronic record keeping. Critics say going digital is complicated and expensive. A privacy risk, too. From Washington D.C., Susan Cimburek says stop the belly-aching.

SUSAN CIMBUREK: All other major industries have gone through exactly the same kinds of dilemmas that the medical industry now faces. Yes, there are growing pains, and yes there are expenses involved, but when you stop and think about it, it's kind of incredible that 1) the medical industry hasn't computerized yet and 2) they are acting like it's a special burden that they alone have to share.

President Obama had his big press conference on, yes, health care last week. One thing we looked at was the challenge the president has in convincing taxpayers that reform is really needed. No small problem when a lot of the absolute costs of medical care are hidden. Insurance premiums, for example, being deducted from paychecks before we ever get them. Roald Evensen owns a cleaning company in River Falls, Wis. He says he sees every one of those costs.

ROALD EVENSEN: For our small business, a high-deductible policy is all we can afford. Every doctor visit is out-of-pocket until the annual $5,500 deductible is met. When we pay these bills, we know exactly what the costs are.

Commentator Robert Reich says the costs of providing health care to the poor should be paid through higher taxes on the rich. Marion Jones from Richmond, Va. says that's a fine idea. Not the best one, though.

MARION JONES: Instead, the rich can and must be won over to this idea through an appeal "not to their humanity but to their self love," as Adam Smith wrote over 230 years ago. A health-care plan that covers the poorest 20 percent will function in the self-interest of the rich, simply because it will protect the rich from the diseases of the poor.

Whether you're rich or poor or somewhere in the middle, send us your comments and corrections.


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