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As a new resident of Albany, I attended my first City Council meeting on June 12. I was impressed by the comments made by councilors regarding the difficult decisions they made in addressing the budgetary shortfall. It showed they took their fiscal responsibilities seriously.

The council emphasized that point by voting in favor of a resolution supporting the Oregon Legislature’s Senate Bill 770, which would create a commission to study how to create a system of universal health care. As shown in the many countries using such systems, they save scarce funds spent by governments for medical care for employees and those who cannot afford soaring health care costs. At the same time, guaranteed coverage independent of employment status makes businesses more competitive in international markets and substantially cuts medical costs (in taxes and out-of-pocket expenses) to individuals. Businesses can thereby create more jobs and individuals will have more money to circulate in local economies. The overall economic benefits are undeniable.

Change can be difficult, especially when it is politically charged by the press and elected officials. However, as medical costs have continued to rise after the passage of Obamacare, it’s clear something more definitive must be done. We can no longer afford to politicize health care reform as costs continue to spiral out of control, leaving millions of working Americans without access to health care when the solution has been amply demonstrated in countries around the world. When it comes to health care, “American exceptionalism” is nothing to brag about.

Rick Staggenborg, M.D.

Albany (June 13)

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