The United States should be able to do better than ration health care in a way that some people receive every benefit of technology and medical prowess available while others receive nothing.

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber pointed out that disparity last week during a panel discussion at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. He contended universal health care should be viewed the same way as public education, which is guaranteed for every child. But instead of giving "everyone coverage for something, as we do with public education, we give some people coverage for everything and others coverage for nothing."

An estimated 511,000 Oregonians - one in seven people - are among the nearly 44 million Americans without health insurance. They either ignore preventative care and their medical problems or end up in emergency rooms, which exaggerate the cost of treatment.

In the past 12 months in Oregon, ending in March, hospital admissions statewide increased by 2 percent but admissions of uninsured patients jumped by 39 percent. Who pays for those emergency patients? Everyone, through higher premiums and medical bills to offset the cost of treating the uninsured.

There's got to be a better way. And it should be one of the goals of our country's next elected president to seek it.

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