House Vote on Single Payer Will Be Historic First, Doctors' Group Says

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Quentin Young, M.D., (312) 782-6006, info@pnhp.org
Mark Almberg, PNHP, (312) 782-6006, cell: (312) 622-0996,
mark@pnhp.org
David Lerner or Karmen Ross, Riptide Communications,
(212) 260-5000

House Vote on Single Payer Will Be Historic First, Doctors' Group Says

Physicians call on lawmakers to 'do the right thing' on health reform

WASHINGTON - Hailing
last week's pledge by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a floor debate
and vote on single-payer health reform this fall, a group of 16,000
physicians is launching an intensified campaign to educate lawmakers
about the urgency of a "Medicare-for-All" solution to the nation's
health care crisis.

Leaders
of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) say their campaign
includes a stepped-up program of visits by doctors to House members in
their home districts during the August recess.

Last Friday's commitment by Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) to put his single-payer amendment
to H.R. 3200, the House leadership's health reform bill, to an
up-or-down vote before the full House has set the stage for first-ever
floor vote of its kind. The House debate on the amendment could begin
as early as September.

"Single
payer has gone from being 'off the table' to 'on the floor,'" said Dr.
Quentin Young, national coordinator of PNHP. "This dramatic turn of
events is a striking indicator of our success. It shows the House
leadership recognizes the strong public support - including among
doctors - for removing the wasteful insurance company middlemen from
our health system and redirecting the resultant savings into care."

Weiner's
amendment would delete most of the language of in the House bill and
instead substitute language from H.R. 676, the single-payer bill
introduced by Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Dennis Kucinich
(D-Ohio).

The
Weiner amendment, unlike the House leadership's bill, assures
universal, comprehensive, and high-quality coverage, free choice of
doctor and hospital, and no co-pays or deductibles through a publicly
financed system similar to Medicare. Young said that because of massive
savings on private insurance overhead and paperwork, the amendment
would entail no increase in U.S. health spending, in contrast to the
House bill's $1 trillion price tag over 10 years.

"By
recapturing the administrative waste associated with our present
multi-payer, for-profit private insurance system, estimated to be $400
billion annually, a single-payer program would have more than enough
resources to cover everyone who lacks insurance now and to upgrade
everyone else's coverage," he said.

"A
single-payer system would also possess strong cost-control tools like
bulk purchasing of drugs, negotiation of fees and global hospital
budgeting, controls that are notably absent in the House bill," he said.

Young
says many union, civic and faith-based groups will be watching how
lawmakers vote with an eye to the 2010 election cycle. "Lawmakers now
have a golden opportunity to stand up for the best interests of their
constituents, to rebuff the private, for-profit health insurance
industry, and to assure the health of our nation," he said.

He
continued: "Many members of Congress - including Speaker Pelosi - have
told constituents that they personally support a single-payer,
Medicare-for-all approach, but claim they can't vote for it because
it's not politically feasible. Yet polls that show they would have the
public's support for such a stand. Now we'll be watching to see whether
their votes match their words."

Single-payer
bills have been introduced in Congress repeatedly over the past 60
years - starting with the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill in the 1940s, and
including the Kennedy-Griffiths bill of the 1970s and the Wellstone,
McDermott and Russo bills of the 1990s - but none has ever reached the
floor of the House or Senate.

*****

Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org) is an organization of 16,000 doctors who advocate for single-payer national health insurance.

Several
leaders of PNHP have testified before congressional committees in the
current health reform debate. (See links below). To interview any of
these or other spokespersons, please call (312) 782-6006.

Testimony
of Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., on medical bankruptcy and health
reform before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on
Administrative and Commercial Law, July 28, 2009
http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/july/testimony_of_steffie.php

Testimony of Dr. Woolhandler before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, July 24

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/june/testimony_of_steffie.php

Testimony of Quentin Young, M.D., M.A.C.P., before the House Ways and Means Committee, June 24

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/june/testimony_of_quentin.php

Testimony of Margaret Flowers, M.D., before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, June 11

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/june/testimony_of_margare.php

Testimony of Dr. Walter Tsou before the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, June 10

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/june/single_payer_bold_.php

Testimony
of David U. Himmelstein, M.D. before the Health, Employment, Labor and
Pensions Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Labor,
April 23

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/april/testimony_of_david_u.php

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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.

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