The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Healthcare: What Can We Learn from Europe?


President Obama is scheduled to be in Germany on Friday and France on Saturday.



Marti and Flowers are co-chairs of the Maryland chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program
(a national organization of 16,000 physicians, medical students and
health professionals who support single-payer national health

Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chair of the Senate Finance Committee,
is meeting with representatives of the group on Wednesday. Flowers will
be at a news conference at noon on Wednesday at 332 Dirksen Senate
Office Building. See "Baucus to Meet with Single-Payer Advocates" in the Great Falls Tribune (Montana).

Marti is French and has studied various European healthcare
systems. She said today: "France enjoys the benefit of a National
Health Program or 'assurance maladie' that is inscribed into a large
organization called Securite Sociale. The term 'securite sociale' -- or
social security -- was first coined by FDR in 1935 and the French used
it to express that social risks, such as work accidents, unemployment,
retirement and healthcare, had to be covered in order to protect the
economic security of individuals. Typically, social protection and
healthcare work in combination, and that is a concept widely accepted
in Europe. At the time of the visit of the U.S. president to France to
remember the sacrifice made by many to liberate Europe from the tyranny
of fascism, it is interesting to reflect on the different paths that
the two continents took in terms of social protection and healthcare.

"After World War II, many leaders felt compelled to take action to
put human dignity back at the center of discussion. The Universal
Declaration of Human Rights was ratified in 1948, thanks to the effort
of Eleanor Roosevelt. The European governments followed this approach
and put universal access to healthcare as part of necessary elements to
fight poverty and restore human dignity. Every country, with different
types of single-payer systems and even some private involvement, made
access to healthcare a national responsibility.

"Generally speaking, the countries that have the best healthcare
outcomes in Europe are the ones with single-payer systems. France has
the lowest preventable death rate and is ranked number one for its
healthcare system. Everyone is covered the same way and there is very
little health disparity compared to the United States. Moreover, the
efficiency of the system comes from its coordination in terms of care
and the limitation put on paper work with an electronic system that
manages most of the medical system. President Obama is going to be with
President Sarkosy in Normandy for the celebration of the landing; one
can wish that he takes note on how the veterans from both continents
have experienced health security."

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.