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[Susan notes: A poignant and powerful plea. ]

Published in Wall Street Journal

To the editor

You report that Republicans say that giving government authority to wheel and deal with drug makers would be almost like price controls ("Why Medicare Drugs May Be Sticking Point," Politics & Economics, Nov. 24). Yet doctors have been living with price controls imposed not only by government but HMOs as well. Furthermore, drug makers' unchecked pricing indirectly affects the controls on physicians' fees because HMOs' profits depend on how low they can negotiate drug prices for their formularies. Naturally, this impacts HMOs' decisions on how much or how little to pay physicians.

This is just another example of the confusion and lack of leadership poisoning health care and of how the medical profession has been almost reduced to servility. At the whims and behest of government and big business, medicine has lost its independence and, with that, its destiny and direction.

Without a labor union to level the playing field, medicine, once a proud and noble woman, has taken to the streets. A crone, a shadow of her former self, she is forced to sell her "services" at discounted prices. Her only salvation is to be allowed to join forces with carpenters, electricians and plumbers. It is the only way to regain her former dignity and respect.

Edward J. Volpintesta, M.D.

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