It's not often that one major policy initiative could solve two huge problems. But a single-payer national healthcare plan could do just that.
Health care will continue to receive considerable attention during the coming months of the presidential campaign. All the talk about "change" and grassroots "involvement" might set the stage for convincing a critical mass of people to demand that the candidates and Congress adopt a single-payer healthcare plan. It would not only solve much of our nation's healthcare crisis but the school funding crisis as well.
If this is to happen, however, educators and our unions need to speak out boldly and provide leadership. Let me explain.
As a teacher of inner-city children, I see unmet health needs on a daily basis. Some of my students are among the 9 million children in the United States who lack health insurance. In its 2006 report, Campaign for Children's Health Care reported that uninsured children are nearly five times more likely than insured children to have at least one delayed or unmet health care need and five times more likely to have unmet dental and vision care needs. These children are also four times more likely to have an unmet need for prescription medication, and more than three times as likely as insured children to have an unmet need for mental health services.