By Harry J. Heiman, MD, MPH

As our country's debate about health care reform gets lost in the obfuscation of partisan politics, I am thankful that Grady Health System is struggling to take care of its dialysis patients.

Don't misunderstand. I feel sorry for the dedicated leadership of Grady and its board, who, after decades of having nonpaying patients dumped on them by every other health system in town, is thoughtfully trying to find treatment alternatives for their patients.

But Grady, and its financial inability to continue providing life-sustaining treatment to its patients, epitomizes the failure of our current health system.

Inherent to reforming our health system is answering questions about who we are as a country and what are our values.

More specifically, do we as a country believe in health equity -- that everyone who lives in America has the right to health and access to health care? The inalienable rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" included in the Declaration of Independence would seem to include health. It is, after all, hard to live and be happy if you don't have access to opportunities for health.

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