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To the editor: U.S. doesn't have the world's best health care

To the editor,

Having followed the recent debate over health care in the Star Gazette, I wish to address some of the myths that seem to be continually perpetuated as this debate wears on.

First, there seems to be a notion that the United States has the absolute best health care in the world. Now, admittedly, such a position is open for debate. However, I don't know many people who would say that a nation that ranks 42nd overall in life expectancy and 29th overall in infant mortality rates has the absolute best health care in the world. And, while our system may work for those who can afford it, the fact remains that our system today leaves millions of sick Americans without care because hardworking, everyday people cannot afford critical medical treatment.

Another myth that seems to be circulating in the current health care debate is that there are no successful government-run health care systems in the world today. To prove this point, many cite the example of the British health care system, which has not lived up to its promises and has suffered under bureaucratic control. However, such an argument ignores the fact that numerous countries, particularly in Scandinavia, are thriving on government-run health care systems. Take Denmark, for example, which has superb universal coverage. Look at Sweden, whose government-funded health care system consistently ranks among the world's best.

For those who fear what the changes in our medical system may cost them personally, let it be known that President Obama insists that these changes will not require middle-class tax hikes. And, for the skeptics, while this is a promise that may not be kept, it nevertheless remains a promise to which President Obama can and will be held accountable. I encourage readers to take Dr. Spinelli's letter seriously, as he provides an important voice from the side of experts in the medical profession. I also encourage readers to inform themselves by reading President Obama's Op-Ed in last Sunday's New York Times, "Why We Need Health Care Reform."

J.S. Amundson