Re Big bills for little work on patients (Page A1, Jan. 19): The hysteria surrounding doctors reimbursements is not addressing the crux of health care costs. Half of the health care money spent in this country is spent on the last six months of a patients life. It's such a touchy subject that, when addressed politically, we label it death panels. We try to curb costs by auditing and reducing reimbursements to private physicians. The Clinton administration started this method, and it has resulted in a shortage of primary care physicians. All the family doctors I know are not taking new patients. Every attempt to cut costs has increased them. Doctors are not opening offices after finishing 13 years of school and accumulating $250,000 of debt. Why? Working for a corporate medical group has many financial advantages. If you think medical expenses are high now, wait until the doctors unionize.
-- Katherine Kalthoff, Sacramento