The Congressional healthcare melodrama here in the US took another twist today, with the passage of the House version of the bill. The mediocre bill will become worse in the Senate on Tuesday. The tragedy, of course, is that single-payer healthcare was always the most sensible option. Underlying the dire need for bigger thinking is a recent report from Amnesty International, as covered by a terrific article by Michelle Chen on RaceWire, about maternal mortality rates. According to Amnesty
Maternal mortality ratios have increased from 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006. While some of the recorded increase is due to improved data collection, the fact remains that maternal mortality ratios have risen significantly.
The USA spends more than any other country on health care, and more on maternal health than any other type of hospital care. Despite this, women in the USA have a higher risk of dying of pregnancy-related complications than those in 40 other countries. For example, the likelihood of a woman dying in childbirth in the USA is five times greater than in Greece, four times greater than in Germany, and three times greater than in Spain.
African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women. These rates and disparities have not improved in more than 20 years.
Even in the best case, the benefits of this reform will only begin in 2014. Between now and then, over a thousand women will die just so we can carry on learning that the only way to get healthcare is to pay for it. Full report here.