The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Clare Fauke, communications specialist,

Doctors' Group Welcomes Sen. Sanders' Medicare-For-All Bill

Single-payer legislation a major step forward to solving national health crisis.


Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a nonprofit research and education organization of 21,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals, welcomes Sen. Bernie Sanders' single-payer bill, The Medicare for All Act of 2017. Replacing America's fractured, for-profit health system with improved Medicare for all would provide comprehensive care for everyone, help rein in skyrocketing health costs, and deliver better medical outcomes.

"Congressional leaders can no longer sit on the sidelines watching our broken health system cripple the economy," said Carol Paris, M.D., president of PNHP. "Every year that we do nothing, health care costs swell by another 5.6%. The only way to both control costs and guarantee access to care is to eliminate the administrative waste and profiteering of the insurance industry."

At $3.2 trillion per year, the U.S. spends nearly twice as much per capita as any other high-income country on health care, but scores poorly on life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality, and access to health services. Despite the improvements of the Affordable Care Act, 28 million Americans remain uninsured, according to the Census Bureau's estimate released on Tuesday. Researchers estimate that 36,000 Americans die prematurely each year because they lack insurance. Sen. Sanders' bill would reduce the number of uninsured to zero, allowing everyone to visit the doctor or hospital of their choice for medically-necessary care, including dental, vision and mental health services.

By eliminating the wasteful, profit-driven private insurance industry, a single-payer program would save the nation hundreds of billions annually on paperwork and profits. Physicians, who now spend an average of nine hours each week on administrative tasks like billing, could focus more time on patient care. Not surprisingly, a majority of American doctors now support Medicare for all.

Under Medicare for all, medical bankruptcy would be a thing of the past. Today, the crushing cost of health care is the top financial problem facing U.S. families. Even many of the insured face obstacles to care: More than half of all workers with employer plans face deductibles of $1,000 or more, and more than one-third of U.S. adults report difficulty paying premiums and deductibles. By untangling health care from employment, workers would be free to switch jobs or launch a new business without losing coverage.

Dr. Paris notes that incremental tweaks like subsidizing ACA premiums, or offering Medicare or Medicaid buy-ins, will do little to change long-term health or financial outcomes. "We've tried everything else," said Dr. Paris. "Medicare for all is the only plan that will solve our nation's growing health care crisis."

In 2016, PNHP released its Physicians' Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform, a proposal based on decades of careful analysis and research. PNHP recommends several improvements to the Medicare for All Act that would save money and improve patient care, including global budgeting of hospitals and other health care institutions; the separation of capital and operating payments to hospitals and other health care institutions; full coverage of all medications, without copayment; the exclusion of investor-owned, for-profit health care providers; and the establishment of a national long-term care program.

"PNHP applauds Sen. Sanders and the thousands of grassroots advocates whose tireless advocacy has pushed single payer to the forefront of the national debate on health care," said Claudia Fegan, M.D., PNHP's national coordinator. "We look forward to working with Sen. Sanders to strengthen and advocate for this bill."

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.