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HUNDREDS HEAR PROPOSAL FOR NATIONAL HEALTH PLAN

Hundreds of Utahns packed St. Mark's Fellowship Hall Friday night to hear a proposal to create a comprehensive national health-care program and do away with health insurance.

The rally, sponsored by the Utah Coalition for National Health Care Reform and others, advocated a proposal by the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) similar to the national health care system in Canada. Anthony Mazzocchi, Harvard University School of Public Health, and Michael Fratkin, a representative for PNHP, spoke to the group."Our leaders will surely follow us in providing care for the people," said Fratkin.

At the core of PNHP's proposal is the removal of all financial barriers to health care with services available to every American regardless of pre-existing conditions or ability to pay. The plan covers all standard medical treatment as well as care for mental health, long-term illness, dental services, occupational health services, prescription drugs and equipment.

A progressive general tax would pay for the program, rather than insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenditures.

"Every year, millions of Americans go without insurance for at least a year," said Fratkin.

"We are paying `out of pocket' more than ever before and we are receiving less," said Mazzocchi. "Politicians understand that Americans want change in the health-care system."

PNHP's proposal would be phased in over a three-year period. Though the federal government would handle all administrative aspects of the system, Americans could continue to receive care through their chosen physicians. The government would pay an annual "global" lump sum to the provider to cover all operating costs.

The quality of care would remain under the auspices of the public through local regional health planning boards set up to monitor the needs of the people in the areas.

PNHP was founded in 1987 by 30 physicians who believe that America's health-care program provides inadequate service and is too costly for most consumers.