Americans are not divided about the state of their health care system,
according to national polls. In a February 2007 poll, 91 percent believe health
care in America needs reforming. Sixty-four percent of those polled in October
2006 would prefer universal health insurance, even if it meant higher taxes.
When 1,229 adults nationwide were asked in January 2006 if health insurance
should be guaranteed for everyone, 62 percent said yes. In the same poll, 61
percent said they were concerned �a lot� about health care costs they are
facing or will face.
In a surprising alliance, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott and Service Employees
International Union President Andrew Stern called for the current health care
system to be scrapped by 2012. Stern said, �CEO Lee Scott and I agree: We need
'real solutions' for America's broken health care system, and that 'every day
we do not work together to solve this challenge is a day that our country
becomes less competitive in the global economy.�
�What business and labor seem to be agreeing on more and more is that
everyone needs to be covered and it can't be done with a system designed in the
1940s if America is to be competitive in a 21st century global economy,� said
Sen. Ron Wyden (D) of Oregon.
Alone in the industrialized world
�Every other industrialized nation in the world provides universal
health care to its citizens,� Rep. Jim McDermott (D) of Washington says on his
website. The U.S. is in fact the only industrialized country which does not
provide a form of universal health coverage.
Americans annually spend $5,267 per capita on health care, while the
industrialized world�s median is $2,193. The U.S. spends more on health care
than any other country in the world. Presidential candidate John Edwards
remarked, �We're spending more on health care costs than any other country in
the industrial world and getting one of the worst products out the other end.�
The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks the U.S. as 27th in the
industrialized world for infant mortality. The average life expectancy,
according to the WHO, in the U.S. is age 78, ranking 25th among industrialized
nations. The average number of good health years is 69, also ranking 25th, and
below Slovenia. According to the Institute of Medicine, 18,000 deaths in the
U.S. are caused by lack of health insurance.
National Health Insurance
Five years ago Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the United States
National Health Insurance Act (HR 676). The legislation�s stated purpose is �to
provide for comprehensive health insurance coverage for all United States
residents, and for other purposes.� Reintroduced last January, the act would
extend coverage to �every person living in or visiting the U.S. and U.S.
Territories.� A United States National Health Insurance Card and ID number
would be issued to every person living in the U.S. Coverage would include
prescription drugs, mental health services, emergency care, primary care and
prevention, and vision care.
Conyers, the act would �cover all medically necessary services . . . Patients
have their choice of physicians, providers, hospitals, clinics and practices.
No co-pays or deductibles are permitted under this act.�
The program would be funded by the existing sources of revenues for
current health care programs such as Medicare. After a five-year period, the
Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Services would be
integrated into the program. Taxes would be increased for the top 5 percent of
wage earners for a further source of funds.
Co-sponsor Rep Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio said, �Health
care is one issue that unites Americans across party lines, across income
lines. Because every person realizes that a single illness in a family can wipe
out that family financially. So health care and the accessibility and
affordability of health care is central to the government�s responsibility to
provide -- to promote the general welfare.�
bill would control skyrocketing health costs and restore choice of physician
and the doctor-patient relationship,� said co-sponsor Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).