The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mark Almberg, PNHP, (312) 782-6006,

'There IS a Better Health Plan, Mr. President'

Medicare-for-All doctors available for comment on State of the Union speech


to President Obama's challenge to others in his State of the Union
address that they come up with a better approach to health care reform
than his own, physicians who advocate for a single-payer program
stepped forward this morning to again make the case for their
alternative, which they say has solid public support.

Among them is Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician and congressional
fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of
17,000 physicians who support a single-payer system, who is traveling
to the White House today to deliver an open letter to the president calling on him to meet with her and other Medicare-for-All advocates.

Also speaking out today are Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David
Himmelstein, co-founders of PNHP, primary care physicians in Cambridge,
Mass., and professors at Harvard Medical School, who provided commentary in a blog in today's New York Times.

In her letter to Obama, Flowers notes how surprised she and others were
when single-payer advocates were excluded from the early stages of the
discussions on health reform. Flowers was one of several physicians,
nurses and reform advocates who were arrested at Senate Finance
Committee hearings last spring for standing up and asking in a
dignified way why the Medicare-for-All option was "off the table."

Flowers writes: "I am asking you to meet with me because the solution
is simple. Remove all of the industries who profit off of the American
health care catastrophe from the table. Replace them with those who are
knowledgeable in designing health systems and who are without ties to
the for-profit medical industries. And then allow them to design an
improved Medicare-for-All national health system."

Flowers then itemizes the advantages of adopting such a system, saying
that it would cover everyone, save thousands of lives, relieve medical
debt, control costs, help the economy, and restore the
physician-patient relationship. Obama himself is on record noting only
a single-payer plan would provide universal coverage: "The truth is
unless you have what's called a single-payer system in which everyone's
automatically covered, you're probably not going to reach every single

The full text of Flowers' letter, and the blog commentary by Woolhandler and Himmelstein, appear below.

All three, plus several other physicians, are available for comment on the president's speech last night.

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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.