WASHINGTON, DC - May 1 - The following physicians -- members of Physicians for a National Health Program -- are each available for a limited number of interviews.
AARON CARROLL, MD
Carroll is assistant professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research and the Indiana University School of Medicine.
ROCKY WHITE, MD
White, who comes from a conservative evangelical background, recently revised Dr. Robert LeBow's classic book advocating a single-payer health care system, Health Care Meltdown: Confronting the Myths and Fixing Our Failing System.
White said today: "McCain's plan is unclear and seems to be no plan at all; it's building on the irrational, inefficient system we currently have. There was a time, perhaps 10 years ago, that I used to think the same way as McCain about health care, in terms of letting the market correct the system. But I changed by being a patient advocate. Allowing the profit motive in the financing of health care to drive policy is destorying our health care system.
"McCain talks about the inefficiency, the irrationality and the failure to control costs of our current system, and that part of his plan sounds like a speech I would give. But then he attacks the notion of a government monopoly that he says would be inefficient and irrational. McCain seeks to expand on our current failed system. This apparent fear of a huge government bureaucracy is misplaced. We already have a large government system, Medicare. It does have its faults, but it operates between 3 and 7 percent overhead. That's incredibly efficient -- far better than the private insurance industry, which operates between 12 and 22 percent overhead. If you think a government system would be so terrible, call your grandmother and ask about the quality of care under Medicare, like if she can go to the doctor of her choice; she'll tell you she can."
Coates is an internist practicing in Albany, New York and teaching at the Albany Medical College. He said today: "John McCain has been unclear, but he seems, in effect, to want a new tax on people who have already paid for job-based private health insurance with their work. If you get health care through your employer, you're paying for it through your work and your employer gets a tax break for that. McCain seems to want to get rid of that system. He also offers to give a symbolic tax credit to those who can't afford to buy their own private health insurance. He has regurgitated a dead-end proposal by President Bush. Worse, McCain makes himself a laughingstock by promising to work 'tirelessly' for such tired, empty, notions.
"But our laughter is cut short by remembering that the Democratic candidates would compel the expansion of private health insurance, at fantastic public expense. Obama and Clinton have exhumed Richard Nixon's old idea of a private health insurance mandate. Should we laugh or cry?
"Our candidates all agree that private health insurance companies should continue to play the starring role in the American system, yet they quibble about the degree of government responsibility for the health care our citizens actually experience. In fact, their disagreement has been characterized as a question of whether the government ought to regulate private health insurance or deregulate private health insurance.
"Our people and our doctors want a public system of health insurance for everyone. We in Physicians for a National Health Program proudly believe that in a democracy the government should accept full responsibility to work for adequate health care for all.
"We call upon the candidates to face the facts. Private health insurance has failed. It is time for a program for the health of everyone in the United States. A publicly financed single-payer system is the only proposal that is both practical and just."