IRENE WILKERSON, REGISTERED NURSE: Good evening.
As you may be aware the racial gap in mortality is increasing in the U.S. Currently, black women are dying four times the rate as white women from pregnancy related complications. And this statistic is driving the overall rate of maternal death in America up, and has led to the U.S. being the most dangerous developed country to give birth in.
If elected, how do you plan to address this issue and keep black mothers alive?
BENNET: Thank you for the question and thank you for being a neonatal nurse, that’s an important job. ... Everything that’s wrong with our health care system — and, by the way, if you are white and middle class there are many people in this country who hate our health care system because it doesn’t work well for them. Everything that’s wrong with it for them is far times worse for people of color and especially for African American women, and especially for poor people in this country, and especially for poor children of color in this country.
And I think what we have to do is increase access for everybody in the United States of America and be willing to pay for it. And we haven’t been willing to pay for it. There are rural communities and urban communities, and many of them African Americans in the South, some not African American in others in parts of country, where there are — where there is no primary care or maternity care at all.
And that's why people are dying in our country, and that's why our life expectancy is actually going down in the United States of America instead of what's happening in all these other countries of the world.
I think that it is time for us to have universal health care in the country. We’ve got to reduce the cost of health care in the United States because we’re spending twice as much as any other industrialized country in the world, but we’re not covering people as you say for the most basic parts of health care that are expected as a right in other countries. They should be a right in the United States of America no matter what color you are, and especially if you are living in one of our less privileged communities.