At U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson’s recent town hall meeting, it was clear that health care was at the top of everyone’s concerns. A common fear expressed was that there would be a government bureaucrat between patient and doctor.

But if you think about it, don’t most people now have an insurance bureaucrat between them and their doctors? Treatment and procedures are often decided depending on the kind — or lack — of coverage one has.

I read recently that the insurance industry enjoyed the highest profits in history in 2007. Those profits were achieved in part by such practices as denying coverage to someone with pre-existing conditions.

Most people acknowledge that we need health care reform. Dr. Denis Cortese, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic, who supports President Obama’s goal of reform, said recently that we err when we refer to our “health care system,”— that we have no “system” in this country. What we have is a hodgepodge of existing agencies.

There is no doubt that cost containment is something that must be addressed along with other difficult issues.

I am fortunate in that my husband and I have always had good coverage. But I am concerned about the 47 million people in this country who have no coverage. We Americans are proud that ours is a land of hope and opportunity. However, it’s hard to be proud of the health care we have in this country, measured against those principles.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for our nation to achieve significant reform in a much needed-area. I hope you will urge our leaders not to lose focus on what this is really all about.

Ruth Koenig


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