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This is our health-care crisis 

In the hubbub over the funding of ObamaCare, people seem to have lost sight of the problems with our health-care system that prompted the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare).

Neither the Tea Party people nor the Ted “Cruzies” have alternate answers to the problems. They only seem to be addicted to the spotlight, but bereft of solutions.

Prior to ObamaCare, we were the only industrialized nation without universal health care. Indeed, Germany has had it since about 1880, enacted by Otto Bismarck, who was hardly a liberal or socialist.

Although we spend about 50 percent more per capita than other countries for health care, we still have about 45 million uninsured and very poor health statistics. Health costs are by far the leading cause of personal bankruptcy, while in Canada and Europe bankruptcy caused by medical bills is virtually unheard of.

Even though we have among the best doctors and medical facilities in the United States, we rank about 20th in cure rate of curable disease. We similarly trail the world in life expectancy and infant mortality.

An excellent objective comparison of world health-care systems can be found in the book The Healing of America by T.R. Reid. Mr. Reid cites a John Hopkins study published in the Boston Review that found the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer, to be the health-care system. Complications from tests, procedures, and treatments rather than simple medical negligence seem to be at the heart of this.

Also, doctors are often working in the dark, not having the patient history necessary to deliver quality care. They often only see patients in the emergency room where often the problems are advanced. People likely seeking medical attention due to the lack of medical insurance or the inability to face large co-pays or deductibles have no other alternative than to use the emergency room for care.

ObamaCare seeks to address many of these problems. It may not be a perfect system, but it is a step in the right direction. The people who want to throw this system out or defund it should be required to come up with alternate solutions to our problems. If they can’t, then they should be ignored. Their complaints are pointless and, in a way, cruel to those who need our help.

-- James M. Duenow - San Luis Obispo

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