Busting Health-Care Costs, Not Budgets

As one who is quoted in the opinion piece "Buster of State Budgets," July 29, about Congressman Henry Waxman, I must take issue with the comments associated with my name, in particular, and with the thesis of the piece, in general. The quoted statement is taken out of context and does not account for the high regard I have for Mr. Waxman's legislative abilities and personal traits.I disagree with the author's conclusion that Waxman had manipulated the legislative process and single-handedly pushed the states over the financial brink by requiring them to spend money on their Medicaid programs for the poor. The author notes correctly that Medicaid costs are increasing rapidly, but then implies that "mandates" enacted by Congress at Waxman's urging are the major source of the increase. Even the Bush administration disagrees on this point. Over the past decade, the Office of Management and Budget estimates that 59 percent of increased Medicaid spending was due to health-care inflation and another 19 percent was due to increased enrollment. Mr. Waxman has a long record of trying to contain health-care costs. In 1979, Waxman led the unsuccessful fight for President Carter's hospital cost-containment initiative. More recently, he introduced health-care reform legislation H.R. 2535, which contains cost-containment provisions that define the middle ground between a "single payer" system and the unfettered market in which we operate today. Henry Waxman's mandates have not busted any state budgets but instead have helped improve the quality of life of countless numbers of poor women, children, elderly, and disabled people. US Rep. Bill Richardson (D) of New Mexico

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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