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"The global evidence is very clear: single-payer financing systems are the most equitable and cost-effective way to assure that everyone, without exception, gets high-quality care," physician activist say. (Photo: Alex Proimos/flickr/cc)

Universal Healthcare Advocates Renew Push Toward Medicare-For-All

U.S. Rep. John Conyers says: 'I believe that a single-payer, universal healthcare system is the only way we can truly reshape our broken system'

Deirdre Fulton

Single-payer advocates are celebrating the reintroduction of the so-called 'Medicare-for-All' bill that would replace the nation's byzantine healthcare system, dominated by private health insurance companies, with a single, streamlined public agency that would pay all medical claims for the entire population, much like Medicare does for seniors today.

Lead sponsor Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich) put forth the "Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act" (H.R. 676) on Tuesday evening, along with 44 other House members. The legislation would create a publicly financed, privately delivered health care system that expands the already existing Medicare program to all U.S. residents and all residents living in U.S. territories. The bill has been defeated in three previous House sessions.

Proponents say the approach would vastly simplify how the nation pays for care, improve patient health, restore free choice of physician, eliminate co-pays and deductibles, and yield substantial savings for individuals, families, and the national economy.

At his website, Conyers says: "I believe that a single-payer, universal healthcare system is the only way we can truly reshape our broken healthcare system."

Dr. Robert Zarr, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, a non-profit research and educational group of 19,000 doctors nationwide that supports Conyers's bill, echoed that claim.

"The global evidence is very clear: single-payer financing systems are the most equitable and cost-effective way to assure that everyone, without exception, gets high-quality care," Zarr said. "Medicare is a good model to build on, and what better way to observe Medicare's 50th anniversary year than to improve and extend the program and its benefits to people of all ages?"

The Medicare-for-All bill would be an improvement on the Affordable Care Act, Zarr continued:

[T]he enactment of Rep. Conyers' bill would take us much further down the road to a humane, just and sustainable health care system than the 2010 health law, which, despite its modest benefits, will not be able to control costs and will still leave 31 million people uninsured in 2024, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Millions more will be inadequately insured, with skimpy coverage.

As a doctor who sees the children of hard-pressed parents every day, I can tell you that the need for fundamental health care reform has never been greater. It's time to stop putting the interests of private insurance companies and Big Pharma over patient needs. It’s time to adopt a single-payer, improved-Medicare-for-all program in the United States.

Last month, Common Dreams reported that just over 50 percent of Americans—and more than 80 percent of Democrats—say they still support the idea of single-payer healthcare, according to a poll by the Progressive Change Institute.

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled House voted Tuesday largely along party lines to repeal and replace Obamacare. The legislation is likely to fail in the U.S. Senate and would certainly be vetoed by President Obama should it reach his desk.

House Republicans have moved to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act more than 50 times.


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