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Letter: Changes must be made to health system

September 18, 2018

I have received an overwhelming response to my letter that was published in the Aiken Standard on Aug. 19. Many friends, neighbors and people I hardly know have written, called or stopped me on the street to thank me for having the courage to publicly say what needed to be said about the inadequacies and inequities of our current healthcare system.

It wasn’t easy for me to tell the whole world I’ve outlived my savings and now need assistance from Medicaid, but sharing a personal experience is the most effective way to demonstrate the need for change. My neurologist is very angry with me for publicly criticizing his medical care, but I don’t regret the public airing. The issue is more important than protecting my personal privacy or his. We ordinary folks desperately need a comprehensive and equitable healthcare system in our community.

It is simply not fair that our representatives in Congress have their plush medical plan while we ordinary folks struggle with the current inadequate system. Members of Congress are supposed to be public servants. In addition to their plush healthcare plan, they earn more money than most of us. They have more time off and a pension plan. Most of them leave office as millionaires through their dealings with lobbyists.

Those in positions of power need to make some major changes. Why shouldn’t the millionaires and billionaires who recently received a huge tax gift from the billionaire president donate a chunk of that money to form a small group of successful business and community leaders to devise a suitable plan for the rest of us? Even I, with no experience in civic planning, can think of a few possibilities.

Why not combine our resources with the Augusta University medical complex to create a comprehensive healthcare center to serve the Aiken/North Augusta/Augusta area? Why not establish an efficient, reasonably priced express bus system to transport ailing seniors to and from their medical appointments without the long, exhausting waits that come with senior mobility services? It’s not rocket science. It’s simply a desperately needed service that can be established through the dedication and determination of a small group of skilled and compassionate leaders from our communities.

If I didn’t have this debilitating disease, I’d be out knocking on doors and joining protest groups. As it is, I can only offer my writing skills and my passion for justice and equality. Is there something you can contribute to the cause?

Ruth Merriman

Aiken

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