Start shaping our health care future

As an emergency-room physician in Augusta, I wish to echo Dr. Robert M. Clark's concern regarding access to health care, and our looming shortage of primary care physicians ("Our health care crisis: A doctor's view," July 27).

Too many of our families and friends have heart-wrenching stories to share of getting tangled up in America's health care web. They encounter hassles finding a doctor, often receive a rushed physician visit and are then left to deal with their insurance company - or, if uninsured, face an expense bill. As a nation we seem to be spending more and more for health care but receiving less and less. Sixty years ago health care costs equaled 3.5 percent of our Gross National Product. This year it is 17 percent, and if the trend continues, health care will total 29 percent of GNP by 2030.

Yet, the Institute of Medicine estimates that nearly 20,000 Americans die each year because of limited access to health care - and, as Dr. Clark points out, the United States has one of the highest death rates from treatable illness among industrialized countries.

In this election year, if you are not demanding a workable health plan from your candidate, you are doing yourself and our nation a disservice. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for the future of health care to unfold. I encourage citizens of the CSRA - and particularly our many doctors, nurses and other health professionals - to take an active role shaping the future.

Paul Bonucci, M.D., M.B.A., Martinez

(The writer has been practicing emergency medicine in Augusta since 2000.)

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