Physicians from 48 states and the District of Columbia took a strong stance last Thursday in calling for a publicly financed, single-payer national health program offering universal coverage for all medically necessary care to all Americans.
“Each day as physicians we see the inequities of our current system and the stress in the eyes of our patients who cannot afford the care that they need,” said Dr. Mark K. Matthews, co-chair of Physicians for ColoradoCare. “It is very exciting to see a physicians’ call for sweeping single-payer reform with a detailed proposal signed by over 2,200 doctors nationwide. The proposal calls for a publicly financed, nonprofit system that provides universal continuous health care coverage. This proposal is essentially ColoradoCare. With Amendment 69 we can show the country that it can be done, and indeed it should be done.”
The proposal was introduced through an editorial published in The American Journal of Public Health and is titled, “Beyond the Affordable Care Act: A Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform. The full six-page proposal is outlined in a document linked to the editorial and was signed by 2,231 physicians.
“We can no longer afford to waste the vast resources we do on the administrative costs, executive salaries, and profiteering of the private insurance system,” said Dr. Marcia Angell, a co-author of the editorial and proposal, a member of the faculty of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School, and former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. “We get too little for our money. It’s time to put those resources into real health care for everyone.”
Noting that “lives are literally at stake” under the current system, and that a free-market route would only compound the problem, physicians stressed the need to move beyond “Obamacare” and embraced the remedy that has been shown to work in every industrialized nation in the world — covering everyone through a publicly financed, nonprofit, single-payer system.
“Despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act six years ago, 30 million Americans remain uninsured, an even greater number are underinsured, financial barriers to care like co-pays and deductibles are rising, bureaucracy is growing, provider networks are narrowing, and medical costs are continuing to climb,” said Dr. Adam Gaffney, lead author of the editorial and a Boston-based pulmonary disease and critical care specialist. “Caring relationships are increasingly taking a back seat to the financial prerogatives of insurance firms, corporate providers, and Big Pharma. Our patients are suffering and our profession is being degraded and disfigured by these mercenary interests.”
The plan is strikingly similar to ColoradoCare, the universal health care program Coloradans will vote on as Amendment 69 on the November, 2016 ballot. Both proposals share the following central components outlined in the physicians’ national plan:
- Patients choose to go to any doctor and hospital.
- The program would be paid for by combining current sources of government health spending into a single fund with modest new taxes that would be fully offset by reductions in premiums and out-of-pocket spending. Co-pays and deductibles would be eliminated.
- The single-payer program would save about $500 billion annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of insurance firms, and the massive paperwork they inflict on hospitals and doctors. ColoradoCare saves Coloradans over $4.5 billion a year.
- The administrative savings of the streamlined system would fully offset the costs of covering the uninsured and providing upgraded coverage for everyone else, including coverage of prescription drugs, dental care and long-term carBoth the national “single payer” and ColoradoCare would be in a strong position to negotiate lower prices for medications and other medical supplies, yielding additional savings and reining in costs.
The editorial is available by clicking here. The full proposal and a list of all the signers are available on the Physicians for a National Health Program website by clicking here.