Shredding the health care safety net: Greece is now taking further measures to contain the spread of measles. The development is only adding to the fears of health care advocates in Germany and elsewhere who fear a breakdown of the country’s “golden thread” of coverage and care for children and others with illness. The German press is debating whether to push for legislation for universal health care; one representative from the Green Party called on German parents of small children to vaccinate their kids before the country goes to the polls. And now health minister Karin Kneissl has sent the message that parents whose children are reluctant to get vaccinated for religious reasons should be punished with legal action. She says: “If there’s a rejection of vaccination or even a refusal to pay for vaccines, then we will take legal measures against this.”
Walter Gotter is an American who teaches at the German Research Center in Bochum, West Germany. He tells Shep Smith that the general attitude has not changed much since the recent measles outbreaks, which were revealed when authorities discovered that 35 confirmed and 24 suspected cases had recently been reported to hospitals and clinics across Germany, more than double the number reported in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands combined. The emergence of the virus was just announced by Italian authorities this week. But Germany has seen “difficult days” before, when, in 1998, 90 people died and hundreds more were infected after a combination of exposure to a mold found in Germany and the eruption of a 2-million-year-old volcano in central Turkey.
WATCH Walter’s conversation with Shep Smith above.
Walter Gotter told Shep that Switzerland saw a measles outbreak back in 2011, saying parents there got the message to get vaccines or get someone to run an errand for them. Germany is starting to see a different trend, with Germany’s health care safety net being considered a pillar of Germany’s social market. It’s a promising model in the world of universal health care, but Walters explains that the lack of individual freedom and exchange, with a perception of being trapped in a single insurance system, is causing a lot of concern.
Walter tells Shep the role played by Green Party leader Cem Oezdemir, who supports universal health care, is key. “He has the vision,” he says. “It’s on him to help put those practical demands in place, help implement those universal coverage policies.”
Watch Walter’s interview with Shep Smith above.