Congress Hears Single Payer

For Immediate Release


Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Congress Hears Single Payer

WASHINGTON - On Wednesday, a House subcommittee dealing with health is scheduled to hold a hearing titled "Examining the Single Payer Health Care Option" at 10:30 a.m.

Also on Wednesday, there will be a briefing on healthcare reform, "How Do We Pay For It?" at 2237 Rayburn House Office Building at 1:30 p.m.

Interviews are available with the following analysts (the first two are traveling to the hearing and will speak at the briefing):

Lighty is policy director for the California Nurses' Association / National Nurses' Organizing Committee. He said today: "Unlike other approaches to reform that rely upon un-tested theories to control costs and improve quality, single payer has a proven record in other countries of achieving better health outcomes and lower costs."
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Past national president, Physicians for a National Health Program and past Universal Health Care Fellow at the Soros Foundation, Richter is a physician in rural Vermont and author of At the Crossroads.

She said today: "When we pay for health care we are spending billions on paperwork and bureaucracy that would not be needed if we had a publicly financed health care system that provided everyone equal comprehensive benefits. The insurance companies and all their bureaucracy would no longer be needed. Studies show we could free up $400 billion in unnecessary administrative costs. That is more than enough to pay for the uninsured and underinsured."

Shaffer is co-director of the Center for Policy Analysis, focusing on health policy. She said today: "Universal coverage for affordable health care would improve individuals’ physical health as well as the financial and social security of communities and the nation. Reorienting health care spending priorities could unleash resources for public health.

"However, our fragmented, investor-driven financing system routinely defeats savings from improvements in health status and in the quality of care. Private insurers, drug companies, hospital chains and equipment suppliers are able to soak up every dollar we might save. Instead of reducing costs, potential savings are diverted into high administrative expenses and profits. As a result of our fragmented investor-driven system, the U.S. pays higher prices per unit of service, compared with other countries, and experiences more intensive use of new technologies.

"Congress proposes to address these problems in one important system which the federal government can influence directly: Medicare, which covers people over age 65 and some people with disabilities. They would combine financial and organizational incentives to provide appropriate, high quality care. Because Medicare is a publicly financed, publicly administered program, Congress is able to serve the public by proposing to control Medicare's costs.

"The most effective reform would be to improve and expand Medicare's ability to control costs to all Americans. A single-payer system is the most reliable, proven route to the cost savings and the improvements in quality and good health that we so desperately need."
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