The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Quentin Young, M.D., (312) 782-6006,
Mark Almberg, (312) 782-6006, cell: (312) 622-0996,

Doctors' Group Backs Single-Payer Amendment to House Health Care Bill

16,000 physicians urge passage of substitute ‘Medicare for all’ motion


Calling the health reform bill released by House Democrats a "proven
failure," an organization of 16,000 doctors called today for the
passage of an amendment to the bill that would essentially overturn it
and implement a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system.

The single-payer amendment to H.R. 3200,
the House tri-committee bill unveiled two days ago by Speaker Nancy
Pelosi (D-Calif.), is scheduled to be offered by Rep. Anthony Weiner
(D-N.Y.) next Monday at the Energy and Commerce Committee, although it
could be introduced as early as tomorrow.

Weiner is a co-sponsor of another House bill, the U.S. National Health Care Act, H.R. 676,
sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). Conyers' bill, which has 85
co-sponsors, would create a single-payer system. Weiner's amendment to H.R. 3200 would basically substitute the provisions of H.R. 676 for its present content.

Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National
Health Program, characterized the incremental reform bill offered by
House Democrats this week as a "proven failure," noting that
state-based reforms of this type -- Massachusetts being the latest
example -- have repeatedly foundered.

"The House proposal mimics the imploding Massachusetts reform,"
Young said. "The state is dumping 30,000 legal residents off insurance,
and the largest safety-net hospital is suing the state for decimating
the hospital's budget to shore up the reform. Meanwhile, 1 in 6
Massachusetts residents are unable to pay their medical bills, and 18
percent of residents with insurance skipped care last year because they
couldn't afford it. The Massachusetts model is no solution."

Young greeted Weiner's amendment, noting that it complements the
efforts of other single-payer advocates who have lobbied, testified
before Congress or otherwise pushed to ensure that national health
insurance is "on the table" in the health reform debate.

Young added: "Although many supporters of the House tri-committee
bill are well-intentioned, it's an inconvenient truth that only by
replacing the private health insurance industry with a single-payer,
Medicare-for-All program can we save $400 billion annually on overhead
and bureaucracy -- enough to provide comprehensive, first-dollar
coverage to all."

The Chicago physician said a new study showing that 62 percent of personal bankruptcies in the U.S.
are linked to medical bills or illness, and that three-quarters of
those affected had insurance at the onset of their illness, is but the
latest evidence that the private insurance model of financing care is
breaking down and must be replaced.

"Surveys show that two-thirds of the public favor national health
insurance, as do most physicians," Young said. "Over 550 labor
organizations support H.R. 676, as do scores
of civic and religious groups and city governments. Our lawmakers
should rise above the blandishments of the medical-industrial complex
and vote for what's in the nation's best interest. That means
supporting Weiner's amendment and supporting H.R. 676."

Physicians for a National Health Program is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 21,000 members and chapters across the United States.