Debra J. Saunders

 OK. Providing health care for more individuals may reduce the number of emergency-room visits, but providing health care to more individuals also means paying for those who come in for care and then ignore their doctors and end up in an ambulance. It also means paying for folks who go to the doctor with minor ailments -- rashes, digestive complaints -- that could have been resolved over the counter.

 Expanded health care also means providing pharmaceuticals, therapy sessions, a slew of diagnostic tests and other visits that you wouldn't have provided before -- which costs money. Before you know it, you've spent that $50 billion in savings -- or more.

 Kerry blames Bush for the 17 percent hike in Medicare premiums, and Bush blames Kerry for voting for the bill that triggered the increase. This is the first thing they've both done right, and neither wants to take credit for it.

 Another good thing: Washington is about to require seniors who earn more than $80,000 a year to pay higher Medicare premiums -- in other words, means testing. Neither candidate, alas, is demanding even more means testing.

 Pipes warns that just because a government promises health care for all, that doesn't mean everyone gets it. She notes the rationing that has plagued Canada's sick -- which is the possible cost of "free" health care.

 In the United States, you see citizens who enjoy the best health care in the world, and yet think they shouldn't have to shell out as much for it as they spend annually at restaurants.

 Why not? America's leaders won't go out on a limb to say health care costs money -- and it's worth every dime of it.

Debra J. Saunders

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