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Letter: Affordable Health Care Act is step toward better system

In his July 19 letter decrying the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Mr. Lorton states that the U.S. has "the best (health care) system in the world." In fact, the U.S. is ranked in 39th place in terms of health care outcomes.

Although we spend more per capita on health care than any other nation on Earth, we have 50 million uninsured, of whom 50,000 die every year because they cannot afford the health care they need, and unpaid medical bills are a major factor in most personal bankruptcies. We are the only wealthy industrialized country in the world without universal health care.

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The primary reason for our health care system's poor performance is the central role played by private, for-profit health insurance companies that stand between patients and doctors and produce nothing of value. These companies, and the billing departments they require in every doctor's office, clinic, and hospital, waste a third of every health care dollar on administrative costs, from bloated CEO pay to Wall Street profits to just plain bureaucratic paper-shuffling. In contrast, Medicare's administrative costs are less than 3 percent.

President Obama copied the system Gov. Romney enacted in Massachusetts and now vows to abolish. The ACA is a step forward.

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However, rather than leave the insurance companies in place, I wish the president had continued to call for single-payer, improved Medicare for all, which he supported as an Illinois state senator. That system would work.

Ron Meservey

Columbia

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