Last year’s US midterm elections saw a new wave of progressive Democrats elected to congress, including people like Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib. One of the key proposals that got them elected was universal healthcare. This is in a country that remains the only OECD state not to provide healthcare to all its citizens as a right. But now, there are signs this may finally end.
Historic opportunity for universal health coverage
On 27 February, Democrats introduced a bill in congress that would provide all US residents with healthcare coverage. The proposal is known as ‘Medicare-for-all’, because it would extend ‘Medicare’ – a government-provided health coverage program for over 65s – to all people regardless of age. It would also expand Medicare’s provisions to include prescription medication, dental, vision, and long-term medical care; and it would end the system of charging patient ‘co-payments’, ‘premiums’, and ‘deductibles’. Perhaps most crucially, it would allow the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies. This model, already widely adopted across Europe, Canada, and Australia, has consistently proven more effective in bringing down drug prices.