Massachusetts doctors snub state’s health reform as Model for Country, Pick Single-Payer System Instead

For Immediate Release

Massachusetts doctors snub state’s health reform as Model for Country, Pick Single-Payer System Instead

BOSTON - For
the first time the Massachusetts Medical Society
has asked doctors what they think about health
reform in its annual “Physician Workforce Survey”
of 1,000 practicing physicians in the state, and
the results may strike some as surprising.

A plurality
of the physician respondents, 34 percent, picked
single-payer health reform as their preferred
model of reform, followed by 32 percent who
favored a private-public insurance mix with a
public option buy-in. Seventeen percent voted for
the pre-reform status quo, including the
permissibility of insurers offering low-premium,
high-deductible health plans.

Remarkably,
only 14 percent of Massachusetts doctors would
recommend their own state’s model as a model for
the nation. A small number of respondents, 3
percent, chose an unspecified “other.”

In other
words, the doctors with the most on-the-ground
experience with the Massachusetts plan, after
which the Obama administration’s new health law is
patterned, regard it as one of the least desirable
alternatives for financing care.

The findings
contrast with an earlier survey of Massachusetts
physicians’ opinions on health reform funded by
the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
That survey, published in the New England Journal
of Medicine in October 2009, found that
three-fourths of doctors in the state support the
Massachusetts reform law. However, the survey did
not allow respondents to express their preference
for alternative models of health reform.

Dr. Rachel
Nardin, chair of neurology at Cambridge Hospital
and president of the Massachusetts chapter of
Physicians for a National Health Program, said:
"Massachusetts physicians realize that the state's
health reform has failed to make health care
affordable and accessible, and won't work for the
nation. These findings show the high support for
single-payer Medicare for all by physicians on the
front lines of reform."

While many
in the country look to Massachusetts as a role
model for the country, Dr. Patricia Downs Berger,
co-chair of Mass-Care, the single-payer advocacy
coalition in Massachusetts, and a member of the
Massachusetts Medical Society, notes, “Physicians
in Massachusetts, particularly after health
reform, know from experience that the current
health care system is not sustainable and is not
addressing the deep inequalities and high costs
faced by patients, and they are calling for a more
fundamental change.”

A survey
published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in
April 2008 showed that 59 percent of U.S.
physicians support government action to establish
national health insurance, an increase of 10
percentage points over similar findings five years
before.

Contact:
Rachel Nardin, M.D., chair of neurology, Cambridge
Hospital; president, Massachusetts Physicians for
a National Health Program

Patricia Downs Berger,
M.D., retired internist; co-chair, Mass-Care: The
Massachusetts Campaign for Single Payer Health
Care

Benjamin Day,
executive director, Mass-Care: The Massachusetts
Campaign for Single Payer Health Care; director@masscare.org

 

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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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