Single-Payer Health Reform Bill Introduced in Senate

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Quentin Young, M.D., (312) 782-6006
Mark Almberg, (312) 782-6006,
cell: (312) 622-0996, mark@pnhp.org

Single-Payer Health Reform Bill Introduced in Senate

Would save $400 billion on bureaucracy, enough to cover all 46 million uninsured Americans

CHICAGO - Challenging
head-on the powerful private insurance and pharmaceutical industries,
Vermont's Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a single-payer health reform
bill, the American Health Security Act of 2009, in the U.S. Senate
Wednesday. The bill is the first to directly take on the powerful
lobbies blocking universal health reform in the Senate since Sen. Paul
Wellstone's tragic death.

The
single-payer approach embodied in Sanders' new bill stands in sharp
contrast to the reform models being offered by the White House and by
key lawmakers like Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Edward Kennedy
(D-Mass.). Their plans would preserve a central role for the private
insurance industry, sacrificing both universal coverage and cost
containment during the worst economic crisis since the Depression.

In
contrast, Sanders' new legislation would cover all of the 46 million
Americans who currently lack coverage and improve benefits for all
Americans by eliminating co-pays and deductibles and restoring free
choice of physician. The most fiscally conservative option for reform,
single payer slashes private insurance overhead and bureaucracy in
medical settings, saving over $400 billion annually that can be
redirected into clinical care.

"This
is excellent news for the nation's health," said Dr. Quentin Young,
national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program and a
past president of the American Public Health Association. "There is now
an affordable cure for our dysfunctional health care system. In the
face of our present economic calamity, this is an urgent necessity."

Highlights of the bill include the following:

  • Patients go to any doctor or hospital of their choice.

  • The
    program is paid for by combining current sources of government health
    spending into a single fund with modest new taxes amounting to less
    than what people now pay for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket
    expenses.

  • Comprehensive benefits, including coverage for dental, mental health, and prescription drugs.

  • While federally funded, the program is to be administered by the states.
  • By
    eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private,
    investor-owned insurance industry, along with the burdensome paperwork
    imposed on physicians, hospitals and other providers, the plan saves at
    least $400 billion annually - enough money to provide comprehensive,
    quality care to all.

  • Community
    health centers are fully funded, giving the 60 million Americans now
    living in rural and underserved areas access to care.

  • To
    address the critical shortage of primary care physicians and dentists,
    the bill provides resources for the National Health Service Corps to
    train an additional 24,000 health professionals.

"We
are confident that Sen. Sanders' bill will accelerate the national
drive for the only reform that we know will work," Young said. "A
majority of physicians endorse such an approach. Fifty-nine percent of
U.S. physicians support national health insurance. Two-thirds of the
public also supports such a remedy. We remember well that President
Obama once acknowledged that single-payer national health insurance was
the best way to go. It still is."

Sanders,
who serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and
Pensions, is a longtime advocate of fundamental health care reform. His
new bill draws heavily upon the single-payer legislation introduced by
the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) in 1993, S. 491, and closely
parallels similar legislation pending before the House, H.R. 1200,
introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

A
single-payer bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), H.R.
676, obtained 93 co-sponsors in the House during the last session. It
has been reintroduced in the new Congress as the U.S. National Health
Care Act with the same bill number.

A copy of the bill is available here. (PDF)

###

Physicians for a National Health Program is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 15,000 members and chapters across the United States.

Share This Article

More in: