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Updated 10:00 AM April 6, 2009

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I object totally to the changes in the health care benefit program proposed by the two committees assigned to study the issues. Similar to executives in the automobile industry, members of these committees recommended the short-term remedy of shifting costs to others, and ignored the long-term need to fix the system.

The health care system within the United States is broken. The University of Michigan has the opportunity, and in my view the obligation, to propose and install on a local scale the remedy. We have a medical school, nursing school, law school, public policy school, business school, all of national repute; 50,000 faculty, staff, students and retirees who need health care and exemplary facilities and personnel to provide it.

What is needed is a new approach that will balance economic efficiency (higher output of beneficial results at lower input of limited resources), legal consistency (the same treatments offered in the same way to all with similar characteristics) and personal integrity (openness, honesty, truthfulness and pride in both the process and the outcome). That balance, logically derived, would result in perceptions of fairness, and fairness is the critical element needed for cooperative effort.

Let me propose a few consistent rules that: a) logically would be perceived as fair; b) logically could be expected to change behavior; and c) logically would then reduce the need for and the cost of treatment:

1. Every child, prenatal to 14 years of age, would receive prepaid treatment for all health problems. The future of this group is ahead of them, and they thus deserve unrestricted care.

2. Every individual, from 15 to 75 years of age, would receive prepaid treatment for all health problems provided they are: a) within a reasonable weight range as a result of diet; b) in reasonable physical condition as a result of exercise; and c) showing a reasonable desire to succeed in life as a result of effort. The future of this group is in their own hands; they should help in their care.

3. Every individual, 76 years of age and beyond, would receive prepaid treatment to ensure comfort but not cure. Perhaps the cure could be made available at 50 percent co-pay. Currently, far more resources are spent on the care of the elderly than on the young, and that is both economically inefficient and understandably unfair.

Let me in conclusion state that I am 82 years of age, and thus solidly in the third "comfort but not cure" group. In my view personal integrity includes respect for the rights and well-being of others, and that brings fairness to the economically efficient and legally consistent distribution of benefits and allocation of costs throughout the health care system.

The University Record welcomes letters from members of the University community. Those on topics of broad University interest will be given preference for publication. Letters should be no more than 500 words and must be signed. The editorial staff reserves the right to reject any letter and to edit and/or condense letters for publication. The staff also reserves the right to limit the number of letters submitted by the same individual. Letters may appear in small type. Organizations submitting material must include the name and address of an appropriate officer. Letters must be received by noon Wednesday to receive consideration for publication in the next issue.

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