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HEALTH CARE MEANS TOUGH CHOICES

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The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has recently placed ads in newspapers and on the radio urging their 33 million members to contact their representatives to support the Mitchell/Gephardt health-care legislation. Although the AARP has stated in the past that they support universal health care, they are only supporting this legislation because nursing home health care and prescription drugs will become entitlements which will benefit their members.

One of the main objectives of health-care reform is to increase the health care of the working poor. The reason that they lack it is because they lack the money. If the government stopped making them pay Social Security taxes, then they would have more money to obtain health care. The revenue lost to the Social Security fund by making Social Security taxes progressive can be made up by eliminating Social Security and Medicare subsidies that go to the wealthy and to the upper middle class.At the present time, the government is giving huge amounts of money to the wealthy who are elderly. One example is Medicare, which is subsidized health insurance for the elderly. The richest 10 percent of Medicare recipients receive more from the government in benefits than WIC (Women Infant Care), AFDC (Aid to Families With Dependent Children) and Head Start programs combined.

Hundreds of thousands of retired millionaires are getting subsidized health insurance through Medicare, while the working poor have to struggle to even fill a prescription. It is a national shame that we don't have the means to properly fund Head Start, but we can still give billions of dollars to the elderly who are well off.

If Congress and the president don't have the courage to make tough political decisions, their attempts to provide universal health coverage will fail and bankrupt the country.

Daniel C. Longstaff

Salt Lake City