News Release

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 insurance).

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 Securité Sociale. The term ‘securité 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.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167