Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | AUGUST 20, 2009 7:05 AM

On [Aug. 12], Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, warned a crowd in Winterset about the dangers of health-care reform, telling them, “You have every right to fear. … We should not have a government plan decide when to pull the plug on grandma.” [On Aug. 13], he took the credit for fixing the bill and saving grandmas nationwide.

I never imagined Grassley would stoop to telling such dangerous lies. There is nothing in the bill remotely similar to what he described. Grassley was referring to a provision that required Medicare to give seniors the option to have free counseling with their doctors. And here’s the kicker: This policy was sponsored by Grassley’s Republican colleague Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. It took the imagination of Sarah Palin to make the absurd connection between providing seniors with optional counseling and killing them. Grassley was happy to follow her lead.

Republicans made the proposal. Republicans lied about the proposal. Then Republicans took the proposal out. All this in the hope of scoring political points against the president.

Iowans continue to have their coverage revoked by the real “death panels”: unregulated private insurers. How many of these games must Grassley play before Americans get the health care they voted for?

Kostya Bristow
Iowa City


The British National Health Service is continuing the debate on the use of mixed-sex wards and long waiting time from seeing a primary-care doctor to getting further treatment or hospital care.

In January, British Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced that from 2011, hospitals would not be paid for care delivered in mixed-sex wards unless there is an overriding clinical justification. On the other hand, the health service reports that eliminating mixed wards has proven one of the most intractable problems it has faced.

Waiting times of more than six months were very common in the 1990s. However, at the beginning of 2009, the British government stated that it was very proud that the longest time, from initially seeing a doctor to getting treatment and/or entering a hospital, will be no more than 18 weeks.

The above information is not just rhetoric; it is fact. I had a brother-in-law who was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer after being treated for more than a year for bronchitis. By the time tests were carried out, he was terminal and was put into a mixed-sex ward. He died shortly after entering the hospital.

Many people I have spoken to in Iowa are all for a government-run health program. I have lived using the British service for more than 35 years and since 1974 have been treated under the American heath system. The two systems do not compare.

Obviously, the American system is not perfect. However, a government program is not the answer. We need to change the system so that everyone is able to get affordable, portable insurance, are not refused for pre-existing conditions, and are not dropped for excessive costs. Another misconception is that the British health service is free. This is a big lie. Everyone in Britain must pay a tax to pay for the cost.

Douglas J. Smith
Iowa City

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