The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Clare Fauke, communications specialist, 312-782-6006,

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

Physician leaders urge Congress to move past incremental proposals towards full single-payer reform


Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a nonprofit research and education organization of 23,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals, welcomes the Medicare for All Act of 2019 as an important step towards the organization's goal of a single-payer national health plan. Introduced today by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the bill would improve Medicare to include all medically necessary services, while expanding coverage to everyone in the U.S.

"The Affordable Care Act has taught us that merely tinkering around the edges of our broken health care system will only perpetuate its problems: skyrocketing costs, falling health outcomes, medical bankruptcy, and needless death", said Dr. Adam Gaffney, PNHP's president and a critical care physician and faculty member at Harvard Medical School. "It's time to eliminate the greed and waste of private health insurance and move to a Medicare for All system that puts patients ahead of profits."

Dr. Gaffney notes that despite the advances of the ACA, more than 28 million Americans remain uninsured, with tens of millions more under-insured. Sen. Sanders bill would reduce the number of uninsured to zero, allowing everyone in the U.S. to visit the doctor or hospital of their choice for medically necessary care, including dental, vision, and mental health care. It would also largely eliminate patient cost-sharing, which deters many Americans from seeking needed care.

Besides expanding coverage, the Medicare for All Act would go a long way towards containing the nation's overall health care costs, which are double the per-capita spending of other industrialized nations that provide universal coverage. Without single-payer reform, U.S. annual health spending is projected to reach $5.96 trillion, 19.4 percent of GDP by 2027.

PNHP commends the inclusion of community and home-based long-term care services in the new bill. However, PNHP also recommends several additional improvements to the Medicare for All Act that would save money and improve patient care. In particular, healthy payment strategies are needed, including global budgeting and the separation of capital and operating payments to hospitals and other institutional providers; ending value-based payment systems; and providing a path for the orderly conversion of investor-owned, for-profit health-care providers to not-for-profit status.

Dr. Gaffney encouraged members of Congress to move past the recent flurry of incremental proposals, such as those that claim to "strengthen" the ACA by further subsidizing the private insurance industry, or add a costly public option to our already fragmented system. "Only a true single-payer plan can provide both universal coverage and the hundreds of billions in annual savings necessary to work," added Dr. Gaffney.

"We look forward to working with Sen. Sanders to strengthen and advocate for this important 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.