Imagine this nightmarish scenario. Your home has been burglarized and you phone 911. Prior to sending an officer, however, the dispatcher must first verify that you have paid for police protection this month and discern what your out-of-pocket copayment will be.

Should you desire detective services to track down the burglar, you will need to be prepared for an additional expense.

Such a scenario is difficult to imagine because, as a nation, we have decided that it is in the public interest to make certain services available to all people.

When we phone 911, an array of services are available to us because we know that putting out a fire, catching a criminal, or transferring sick people to a hospital are in the best interests of us all.

We are poised to make a similar decision about the delivery of health care.

We are coming to realize that untreated illnesses hurt not just those afflicted but the communities in which they live.

We are beginning to see that guaranteed access to health care would allow us to move from jobs we dislike into positions where we can make a difference.

We are quickly learning that a health system built around disease management is not nearly as effective as one built around health promotion.

The most effective way to deliver this kind of wellness-oriented, accessible care is through a single-payer health system. However, a middle ground exists and that is to introduce a public insurance plan.

With the unflinching support of Congressman Danny Davis, the House of Representatives has just passed a bill that includes a public option.

If you believe that accessible, affordable health care is good for all of us, call Rep. Davis and thank him for his support. Then call our senators and urge them to make sure that the Senate passes a similar bill.

We have a long way to go to make health care equitable and affordable, but the recent vote was a good start.

Charles Yingling
Oak Park

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