The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: (202) 588-1000

Finally, a Voice in the National Health Care Discussion That Makes Sense

Statement of Sidney Wolfe, M.D., Acting President of Public Citizen and Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group


Today's testimony by Dr. David Himmelstein
of Physicians for a National Health Program before the House
Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is a
breakthrough for supporters of the kind of health care system that
benefits everyone. Lawmakers should take his message seriously - if not
because a single-payer plan is the only system that would cover all
Americans, then because it would save taxpayers $400 billion annually.

Until today, Congress has excluded single-payer advocates from
nearly 20 hearings on health reform held this year. During this time,
President Obama has suggested that single-payer is off the table.
However, after the 77-member Congressional Progressive Caucus' April 2
affirmation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry
Reid that the caucus "prefers a single-payer approach to health care
reform," we are being included today in the conversation.

Most physicians support a single-payer system - a reality that
should not be surprising since a majority of the American public
supports the creation of a national health insurance program funded by
taxes. The asymmetrical influence of lobbyists representing the
interests of insurance and drug companies may have been enough to keep
this majority voice out of the discussion in Washington until now, but
the true benefits for the public of a single-payer system speak louder
than even the most belligerent corporate spin.

Under a single-payer system, doctors, hospitals and other health
care providers are paid from a single fund administered by the
government, which eliminates the wasteful spending and high
administrative costs of private insurance, saving almost $400 billion
annually. This is enough to provide every American with high-quality
care, including those who currently have insurance but still cannot
afford medications and treatment.

"[A] single-payer reform would make universal, comprehensive
coverage affordable by diverting hundreds of billions of dollars from
bureaucracy to patient care," says Himmelstein in his testimony today.
"Lesser reforms - even those that include a public plan option - cannot
realize such savings. While reforms that maintain a major role for
private insurers may be politically attractive, they are economically
and medically nonsensical."

In health care, if in nothing else, let sense prevail over nonsense in Washington.

READ Dr. Himmelstein's testimony.

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

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