For Immediate Release
From the Front Lines: Single-Payer System Is the Sole Solution
Statement of James Floyd, M.D., Health Researcher, Public Citizen
Public Citizen has joined the Leadership Conference for
Guaranteed Health Care because a single-payer national health insurance
program is the only viable solution to our health care crisis.
We have a fragmented health care system that is driven
by corporate profit and greed. Although private insurers provide
coverage for less than two-thirds of Americans, they drive up
administrative costs for everyone so that, on average, 30 cents of
every health care dollar is spent on administration, much of this
wasted. As a result, costs are skyrocketing and 50 million Americans
are left without health insurance. Tens of millions more have insurance
but are still unable to afford the care they need.
I am a health researcher with Public Citizen and a
practicing internist. It is common for my patients to be taking 10 or
more medications, some of which are life-sustaining, and for them to
require frequent visits with their physicians. With frightening
regularity, I see patients who cannot get their prescriptions filled or
afford co-payments for office visits.
As a result, many become ill enough to require
hospitalization, and some even die. I recall taking care of a veteran
who developed nearly fatal kidney failure from an enlarged prostate
because he was too poor to afford private coverage but made too much to
be covered by Medicaid or the Veterans Health Administration. And I
think of a young woman with diabetes who is admitted to the hospital
every month with a complication or new infection because she cannot
afford the insulin that keeps her out of the hospital. It is sad and
unconscionable that cases like this have become commonplace.
During this recession, we can expect even more people
to lose their health care coverage, resulting in more missed doctor
appointments and unfilled prescriptions. The estimated 20,000 people
who die each year because of a lack of health insurance will rise
faster than we could have feared. Also, illness due to a lack of health
care only feeds the cycle of missed work days and lost jobs, reducing
our economic productivity. Our country cannot recover from this
recession if we become sicker with every passing year.
The time for delaying meaningful health care reform
because of narrow interests is over. We must eliminate private
insurance companies as middlemen who divert health care dollars from
real care and are responsible for massive administrative waste. Other
proposals for health care reform do not address this fundamental
problem of waste and will not reduce costs. A single-payer system is
the only way to provide everyone with comprehensive care, regardless of
their ability to pay, while keeping costs down. It is also the most
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