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April 26 08:56 PM
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Advocating for health care


To the Editor:

For seven years, community agencies, health care providers, policy-makers, the media, and others have been partnering to bring attention to the growing number of uninsured in this country through Cover the Uninsured Week, March 22-28.

St. Joseph Mercy Port Huron and The Peoples' Clinic for Better Health have been partners in this effort. During this time, the number of persons without health insurance grew from 45 million to 46 million.

We all understand the problems associated with a growing number of uninsured. Children do not receive necessary preventive care to keep them healthy and in school, adults too often fail to receive treatment until their health concerns have escalated and they present in emergency rooms where care is the most expensive and doesn't meet the long-term needs of the chronic care conditions, while others have stopped prescribed treatments necessary to control their chronic illness.

The result is care for the uninsured ends up costing more than it needs to and is ultimately passed on to employers who are still providing health insurance. As a nation, we spend far more than any other industrialized nation on health care while leaving nearly one out of six Americans uninsured. Health reform is an essential component of our nation's economic recovery.

There is a better way. Now is the time to ensure quality, affordable coverage and access for all. We can do this in a system that promotes coordinated and efficient care with a strong focus on prevention and encourages responsibility and incentives for individuals to practice healthy behaviors.

During this important week, now is the time to remind our leaders that we are expecting a solution to this problem. There are a number of health care reform proposals. St. Joseph Mercy Port Huron, a member of the national health care system Trinity Health, believes reform should address: the growing number of uninsured; insurance market risk selection; inefficient financing and delivery of care, and uneven burdens and accountability.

I invite the community to join me in efforts to bring awareness to these reform initiatives. By sending letters, conversing with friends and family, or sharing your experience, you can be a part of our Find a Way campaign. To learn more about this opportunity, please visit our website at mymercy.us; and go to the Advocacy Action Center.

Together, we can find a way for everyone living in the United States to have access to affordable, high quality health care in a society that is ultimately healthier, and in an economy that is more competitive as a result. I hope you will consider this invitation to advance legislation to transform the nation's health care system.

Peter Karadjoff, President & CEO, St. Joseph Mercy, Port Huron
March 25, 2009

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