I want to thank everyone who was involved in bringing the health care reform forum to Ascension Church on Sept. 20. [Another wrinkle in the health care debate, News, Oct. 7] I attended with my 22-year-old daughter and her friend, and we agreed this was one of the most informative forums we have attended anywhere.

The four presenters, all with long experience practicing in the health care field, very clearly outlined a health care system that does not work for significant numbers of people. All of us likely have a friend or relative who is struggling with the maze of health insurance coverage and the unsustainable cost of keeping themselves and their families covered. I know a family of three in Oak Park that pays nearly $24,000 a year in health insurance premiums, exclusive of co-pays and deductibles, and a relative who has experienced long lapses in coverage because of her husband’s disability. She recently applied for public aid just to get health insurance coverage. Blue Cross dropped her when they found out she had been treated for psychiatric care.

My sister in France had a very different experience seven years ago when she was diagnosed with blood cancer. Though she is not a French citizen, she is self-employed and pays French taxes, thus covering her under their national health care system. All of her treatments, including chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant, were covered, and she did not have to deal with deciphering insurance claims while she recovered. Initially, I was going to be the blood donor, and my sister’s doctor told me they would pay for my roundtrip airfare to Paris, hotel and food costs for however many days they needed me in Paris. As it turned out, my sister was able to use her own stem cells. Though her cancer is in remission, she goes for quarterly follow-up tests and examinations, all of which are covered by national health care.

Our current system, which leaves so many people vulnerable and financially bankrupt, is immoral in a rich society. David Scheiner – President Obama’s former personal physician, who spoke at the forum – was right when he said that health care reform is the civil rights issue of our time. Wouldn’t it make sense for the village board to adopt an ordinance urging our elected federal officials, including the president, to pass legislation that provides quality health care to all at an affordable cost, as other countries figured out years ago? After all, Oak Park is the village that passed a handgun ban and a no-nuke ordinance. Shouldn’t we be urging our elected officials to send a strong message to Washington on health care reform?

This excellent forum was videotaped and hopefully will be available at the library and on local channel 6 as a public service.

Oak Parker Kathryn Jonas is a member of the village’s forestry commission who unsuccessfully ran for village trustee in April.

Join the discussion on social media!