Single-Payer: It's What the People Want

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Single-Payer: It's What the People Want

New poll shows majority of Americans support such a system.

Weeks after Vermont's governor announced he was ditching the effort to create a single-payer healthcare system in his state, a new poll reveals that's the kind of healthcare system a majority of Americans support.  (Photo: Joe Newman via Public Citizen/flickr/cc)

A majority of Americans support a single-payer, Medicare-for-all healthcare system, a new poll shows.

The results showed that just over 50 percent of the 1,500 likely voters surveyed indicated support for a single-payer system. Almost 80 percent of Democrats supported such a plan, while 25 of Republicans did.

The findings were first shared with The Hill by the Progressive Change Institute, an arm of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

The new poll comes on the heels of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin's abandoning what was seen as a trailblazing plan to create a single-payer healthcare system in his state. The move was derided by Dr. Andrew D. Coates, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, who said, "Vermonters throughout the state understand that an equitable health care system must be truly universal and must remove all financial barriers to medically necessary care. They recognize that a public single payer is an essential incremental step toward these goals."

"The time for a single-payer system is now. Our patients in every state urgently need it," Coates added.

That sentiment is widely shared.

Dr. James Burdick, Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, wrote in May that a single-payer system "is now recognized by many in the U.S. as the best solution for our health care problems."

Larry Smith, one of the subjects of Michael Moore's 2007 documentary film SiCKO, focused on the system's economic benefits, writing last month: "Single-payer health care reform (some call it improved and expanded Medicare for all for life) isn't just good for those folks under 65 who aren't yet on Medicare. Single-payer financing for our health care system isn't just good for public budgets and business bottom lines. Single-payer health care reform would allow most of us to spend a lot less than we do now on health care costs."

As Donna Smith, Larry's wife and indefatigable single-payer advocate has stressed, making a change to single-payer would also uproot the current system which she describes as a profit-driven healthcare "cartel."

"If we had an improved and expanded Medicare-for-all for life system, financed through a public, single-payer model, our system would be just that—our health care system. We would be the ones making sure that good health care access and fairly negotiated pricing was done in the best interests of us all. Until then, we are at the mercy of the health care cartel that is so powerful that it currently controls almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy," she wrote.

Single-payer supporter Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) agrees: "The goal of real health-care reform must be high-quality, universal coverage in a cost-effective way—with an emphasis on disease prevention. We must ensure, to as great a degree as possible, that the money we put into health coverage goes to the delivery of health care, not to paper-pushing, astronomical profits and lining CEOs' pockets."

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