President Obama Must Include Single-Payer Advocates In National Health Care Debate

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President Obama Must Include Single-Payer Advocates In National Health Care Debate

Statement of Sidney Wolfe, M.D., Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, and James Floyd, M.D., Researcher, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group

WASHINGTON - This morning, President Obama announced he will create a $634
billion reserve fund over the next decade to provide a down payment for
expanding health coverage. The announcement comes a week before a White
House health care summit that marks the beginning of the first serious
effort to reform health care since the Clinton task force in 1993.

The president wants this process to be open and transparent, with
the goal of achieving universal coverage. However, groups representing
physicians, nurses, and consumers who advocate for a single-payer
system of national health insurance have thus far been excluded from
the summit.

Under a single-payer system, doctors, hospitals and other health
care providers are paid from a single fund administered by the
government. The system would eliminate the wasteful spending and high
administrative costs of private insurance, saving almost $400 billion
annually. This savings is enough to provide every American with the
same high-quality care, including those who currently have insurance
but still cannot afford medications and treatment.

If health care is a key to fixing our national deficit and providing
the economic stimulus that we need to recover from this recession, it
is unacceptable to ignore the only system that will provide true
universal coverage. If the only people who have input on health care
reform are the lobbyists who represent the interests of insurance and
drug companies, the final result will be a system that benefits the
insurance and drug companies.

The Clinton task force on health reform made a similar mistake of
excluding the voices of those who support a single-payer system, and
the result was a complicated, inadequate reform proposal that catered
to the interests of insurance companies and failed to garner public
support. At a time when public support for single-payer is greater than
ever - more than 60 percent in recent polls - we urge President Obama
not to make the same mistake. He must include single-payer advocates in
the health care summit next week.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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