Some 60-plus years later, and we still have 45 million Americans – about 15 percent of the population—without healthcare coverage and the number continues to rise.
As healthcare advocate Gerald Cavanaugh points out, the United States ranks 21st in infant mortality and 16th in life expectancy, yet we spend 40 percent more per capita on healthcare than any other nation.
A sizeable majority of Americans want some type of universal healthcare insurance guaranteed to all citizens, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans -- 63 percent -- favor a government guarantee of universal health insurance, even if it means raising taxes; 34 percent are opposed. As expected, Democrats are the most supportive of government-guaranteed health insurance, at 79 percent. But even a majority of independents (63 percent) and moderate Republicans (54 percent) also say the government should guarantee health insurance for all, even if it means higher taxes.
Of course, conservative Republicans are the most opposed to the concept, with 59 percent against it and just 38 percent in support.
But majorities in all major religious demographics also favor a government guarantee of healthcare insurance for all. More than half of white evangelicals (53 percent) favor universal healthcare insurance, as does large majorities of black Protestants (66 percent) and Catholics (67 percent), along with 68 percent of the religiously unaffiliated.
Just as in the 1940s, the American Medical Association (AMA) is a huge obstacle. Nowadays, the large pharmaceutical companies and insurance firms join the organization in lobbying against any major type of change to the current system.
Whoever wins the presidential election in November, it’s time for Americans to come together and demand universal coverage. It could be achieved at less cost than what we’re paying for the unnecessary Iraq War or the proposed $1 trillion bailout of reckless Wall Street investors.
In this case, it’s vital for the nation’s long-term economic health that the system be overhauled, and for Washington to put the greater public good above narrow special interests.— Kevin Osborne