Copyright 1999 Newsday, Inc.
Newsday (New York, NY)
July 22, 1999, Thursday, ALL EDITIONS
SECTION: VIEWPOINTS; Page A49
LENGTH: 479 words
LETTERS / THE MANY PROBLEMS POSED BY HMOS
Sidney Z. Cohn. Maureen M. Kaley, Gloria S. Rothenberg
Republicans repeatedly accuse President
Bill Clinton and the Democrats of trying to kill the "best health care system in
the world." While they talk a good game, their No. 1 priority is to help the
HMOs maintain their high profitibility. By the end of the Senate debate, the
HMOs scored 100 percent but the Democrats' amendments for proper
doctor-prescribed care for patients were defeated.
It is imperative that
we not lose sight of the driving force behind the HMOs' success in the Senate.
Republicans talked about passing a "meaningful" health bill. What was meaningful
was that they guaranteed themselves large contributions for their campaigns from
an industry that has been spending millions on lobbying, backed up by misleading
advertisements (similar to the Harry and Louise ads of 1994), to defeat
patients' rights bills proposed by Democrats.
The big insurance
companies have been buying out HMOs, thus consolidating the industry. This
speaks volumes to two facts: that HMOs can be a huge source of profits and they
can maintain that high profitability by their control of Republicans in
The insurance industry stands almost alone in the debate among
national organizations interested in health issues. The American Medical
Association, cancer and heart groups and consumer and labor groups are among a
vast majority of organizations that support the Democrats' proposals instead of
the watered-down Republican plan.
Sidney Z. Cohn North Bellmore It is no
surprise that we saw a report on poorer quality of care in for-profit HMOs
"Study: Two Sides to HMO Care," July 14 as Congress debated the
Patients' Bill of Rights "Partisanship in Health
Debate," July 14 .
Market-driven approaches to health care are a
failure. Consumers are fed up, health professionals are frustrated and reports
of horror stories about care that is delayed or denied are almost standard daily
features in the media. The AMA's recent approval of unionization is an attempt
to restore some balance to the decision-making process. The podiatrists
affiliated with a union some time ago and the New York State Psychological
Association approved a union affiliation last month.
We are dealing with
a system that operates like a monopoly, and it takes strong measures to
counteract such abuses. If the Senate lacks the courage to face the need for
scrapping the entire market-driven system, the least it can do is give
individual patients some clout by supporting the Patients' Bill of
Rights. The president has already decreed most of these protections in
health plans that cover federal employees and their families. Do other Americans
deserve any less? Maureen M. Kaley Gloria S. Rothenberg Merrick Editor's Note:
The writers are, respectively, president and cochairman of the legislative
committee of the Nassau County Psychological Association.
LOAD-DATE: July 22, 1999