Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Physicans, Hospitals Plead for National Health Insurance

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Physicans, Hospitals Plead for National Health Insurance

Article excerpt

By John Flesher WASHINGTON - Physicians and hospital officials pleaded for national health insurance Monday, saying the burden of treating uninsured patients is endangering the health-care system.

``There is mounting evidence that the system is on the verge of fiscal collapse,'' said Norton J. Greenberger, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

As many as 37 million Americans have no health insurance, Greenberger told the Senate Subcommittee on Health for Families and the Uninsured. Nearly as many have inadequate or interrupted coverage, he said.

The number of uninsured rose 43 percent between 1978 and 1986, Greenberger said. Meanwhile, the cost to hospitals of charity care and bad debts more than doubled in the last decade, accounting for 5 percent of their expenses.

Sen. Donald Riegle, D-Mich., the subcommittee chairman, said the situation ``underscores the need to develop a national strategy for providing health care for all Americans. It ought to be clear to us that the system is breaking down.''

However, Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan told business leaders in Atlanta on Monday that the solution to America's health-care problems will be found in a free market where businesses aren't burdened with requirements.

``Those who call for a radical revamping of our health-care system - suggesting nationalized medicine - are mistaken,'' Sullivan said in his prepared remarks, which were made available here.

``As much as possible, we must permit the medical marketplace to work,'' he said. ``A dynamic economy will find some solutions on its own. We do not want to rush in with unproven government remedies which may create more problems than they solve.''

There are many reasons for the rise in the number of uninsured, including Medicaid's failure to keep pace with increasing poverty.

High unemployment in the early 1980s, increasing numbers of part-time workers with few benefits and small businesses that offer no insurance are other causes, said E. …

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