CONTRIBUTED BY ANTHONY PEARSON
Healthcare in the United States is, to quote James W Russell’s comparative piece Double Standard, clearly deficient. The United States’ largely private, for-profit system has in practice resulted in high costs: per-capita healthcare costs in the US were roughly twice the European average in 2017. Despite this, the quality of the system’s outcomes has fallen notably behind: the US placed well behind most of Europe in World Health Organization rankings in 2017, with infant mortality rates at twice the European average. Even life expectancy in the US is now consistently lower when compared with averages across European nations.
While the existence of the problem grows clearer each year, the search for a solution remains a hot political topic. Alternatives to the system in the United States tend to fall into one of two vague categories: The first includes social insurance programs (such as in Germany), where both employers and employees are legally required to contribute to funds attached to various healthcare organizations. The second involves nationalizing healthcare (such as in the UK), treating it as a public service akin to education. Both of these methods are at times mixed with private insurance models, all to frequently varying (though generally better than private model) results.
The Medicare for All Act of 2019, a comprehensive two-year plan intended to extend Medicare to all Americans, has recently gained increased attention. In more recent months, it has gained the support of the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States: National Nurses United (NNU).
NNU Vice President Cokie Giles, a registered nurse of more than 35 years, spoke to WHIP about the union’s decision to come out in support of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 in a brief interview with WHIP News Director Tony Pearson, linked in its entirety below.
Correction: In the beginning of the interview, the interviewer claims that 47 million people were uninsured in 2010. This is slightly low; based on the 2010 census, 49.9 million people were uninsured. This leaves roughly a sixth of the population uninsured at the time, as originally stated.