To the editor:
The early Illinois primary on Feb. 5 will be important not only for selection of presidential nominees, but also for medical issues.
The two most important medical issues are keeping doctors in Illinois and maintaining private sector medical care with free choice of doctors, hospitals and insurance.
In the Democratic primary, a fine, fair judge, James Wexstten, currently serving on the Fifth District Appellate Court, is up for election.
His opponent is a personal injury attorney who has brought suit against doctors and hospitals. She is not known for any demonstrated fairness and ability to see both sides in court issues.
In the Republican primary, Dr. Steve Sauerberg is running for the U.S. Senate. Dr. Sauerberg is a family physician and small business owner.
"I support more affordable health insurance, substantial tax credits to families to pay for health insurance, and medical malpractice reform, so that high-powered, attorney-driven frivolous lawsuits don't drive up prices," Dr. Sauerberg stated.
Sauerberg is running to replace Sen. Dick Durbin. Sen. Durbin has always voted to expand the role of government in medicine. Durbin supports "universal health coverage" similar to that in Canada and Britain.
Government run, socialized universal health care, as exists in Canada and Britain, has many problems. This universal health care often means substandard care. Budget-conscious bureaucrats seldom approve expensive new technologies, as their budgets are always stretched.
Five years ago, there were more CT and MRI units in the greater St. Louis area than in all of Canada.
When I received part of my MRI training at the Cleveland Clinic hospital, 25 percent of the patients came from Canada.
A survey of U.S. teaching hospitals found that 18 medical procedures widely available to U.S. patients are not available to Canadians.
Canadian health authorities control drug spending by limiting the number of drugs they approve and by slowing the approval process. Between 1994 and 1998 the Canadian government approved only 24 of 400 new drugs made available in the United States.
Government universal health care often produces delay in treatment, especially in cases involving cancer and cardiovascular disease.
In 1997, 1,500 patients were on waiting lists in Canada for bypass surgery with many dying while on the waiting lists.
We are fortunate to have many excellent doctors in the Metro-East from Canada, Britain, and other countries around the world who have fled the government-run system in their native countries.
Government-run socialized medicine has many problems such as high costs and taxes, limited access to treatment, especially with modern high-tech equipment, and rationed care by government bureaucrats.
Edward F. Ragsdale, M.D.