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From the week of April 17, 2003

On the upside, Roberts won't have to get his '72 powder-blue tux out of storage. Seems the Pulitzer committee gave his hard-hitting, Woodward 'n' Bernstein-like investigative reporting a pass. Still, I hear he's on the short list for a Saddy from al-Jazeera.

JM Schell
Arvada


True Brit

To your health:Regarding Susan Williams's letter in the April 10 issue, let me assure her and your readers that the lastthing you want in this country is national health care. I grew up in London, where the British have lived with national health care for decades, and it is horrible. I was unfortunate enough to experience it firsthand on a couple of occasions. I have also had the great good fortune to experience the private health-care system in this country.

There are at least four areas in which the British system suffers in comparison to ours:

1) Health care. The quality of doctors and nurses is simply not up to U.S. standards. Why do they need to be, with little competition? The really good doctors go into private practice, anyhow, and serve the most wealthy patients in the country. They are tenured just like teachers, so there is little risk of termination unless gross negligence is involved.

2) Equipment and supplies. Every needle, X-ray machine, testing lab and piece of equipment comes from public funds. Who decides what to buy and how much? And doesn't the public have a right to voice their opinion? In a competitive environment, the top practices have to have the best and latest equipment, which usually translates into better services. Health care, like so many other areas of our lives, has become technology-driven, to a large extent. Having to go to the public trough for technology funds is a terrible idea.

3) Administration. How would you like every office manager, front-desk person and orderly to be underpaid, overworked and part of the largest bureaucracy in the country? The level of indifference on the part of health-care office workers in England was truly depressing, frustrating and incredibly inefficient. One of the beauties of our system is that almost everyone at every level is expected to meet minimum standards to keep their job, and exceed standards to move forward. It's a competitive marketplace!

4) Bureaucracy. Do you really want our health-care system run by a government agency? The mind boggles. The opportunity for waste and lost efficiency would be virtually endless.

Is our system perfect? Obviously not. We have too many people who fall through the cracks. But we are far better off with a free-market, competitive system than with national health care.

Mike Mendes
Centennial

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