The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Single-Payer Advocates, Excluded from Summit, Take to Sidewalk


Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 17,000 doctors who support a single-payer, Medicare-for-All approach to reform, said today: "Regrettably, the president's proposal is built on some of the worst aspects of the Senate bill. For example, the president's proposal would ship hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to the private health insurance industry in the form of subsidies. And to help finance this, it would impose a new tax on health benefits of workers, especially those in high-cost states.

"Its individual mandate would force millions of middle-income uninsured Americans to buy insurers' skimpy products -- insurance policies full of gaps like ever-rising co-pays, deductibles and premiums. Such policies already leave middle-class American families vulnerable to economic hardship and medical bankruptcy in the event of a serious illness like cancer.

"Even so, at least 23 million people would remain uninsured. We know that being uninsured raises your chance of dying by about 40 percent. That translates into about 23,000 unnecessary deaths each year. As physicians, we find this completely unacceptable.

"In short, this proposal is an insurance company bonanza -- not good, evidence-based health reform. The president would do better by abandoning the insurance and drug companies and instead taking up the single-payer approach. By building on and improving the already popular Medicare program, we could put our patients' interests first. Were President Obama to do so, he would meet with strong public support, including from the medical community."

Although the physicians' group requested an invitation to Thursday's summit at Blair House, no reply from the White House has been forthcoming, Young said. The group also noted: "Similarly, requests from Reps. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Anthony Weiner of New York and Peter Welch of Vermont that single-payer advocates be included in the meeting have apparently gone unanswered."

Young knew Obama while he was in Chicago. His partner, Dr. David Scheiner, also a PNHP member, was Obama's personal physician.

Outside the Blair House on Thursday, a grassroots "Sidewalk Summit for Medicare for All" organized by PNHP and other groups will begin at 9 a.m.

Woolhandler is co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Flowers is a pediatrician who leads PNHP's Maryland chapter, and Almberg is the group's communications director.

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.