For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Oliver Fein, M.D., Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, ofein@med.cornell.edu
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., PNHP co-founder, steffie_woolhandler@hms.harvard.edu
Clare Fauke, PNHP communications specialist, clare@pnhp.org

Another Physicians Group Endorses Medicare for All

Society of General Internal Medicine recommends U.S. implement universal health coverage, a sign of the medical profession’s growing support for Medicare-for-All reform

WASHINGTON - Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) today applauded the Society of General Internal Medicine’s (SGIM) endorsement of Medicare-for-All reform. SGIM is an internal medical association representing more than 3,300 of the world’s leading academic general internists, including educators, researchers, and clinicians. It announced today that it has endorsed the policy position of the American College of Physicians (ACP), which recommended that “the United States transition to a system that achieves universal coverage with essential benefits and lower administrative costs …”

Dr. Oliver Fein, Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, pointed out that SGIM members in the organization’s Social Responsibility and Single-Payer Interest Groups have pushed for the organization to back single-payer reform for more than two decades. SGIM’s endorsement follows a year of rapid movement among physicians towards Medicare for All. In August 2019 — after months of pressure from single-payer supporters, including a march and rally at their annual meeting — the American Medical Association resigned from the “Partnership for America’s Health Care Future,” an industry front group formed to fight coverage expansions like Medicare for All and even lesser reforms like a public option. A few months later, the American College of Radiology, a medical society representing nearly 40,000 radiologists, oncologists, and nuclear medicine physicians, also cut ties with the “Partnership.”

In January 2020, the American College of Physicians (ACP) announced its endorsement of Medicare for All, along with a “universal public choice” reform model. The ACP represents 159,000 internists, making it the largest medical specialty society and second-largest physician group in the U.S. after the American Medical Association. Immediately following the ACP endorsement, more than 2,000 physicians signed an open letter “prescribing” Medicare for All, which ran as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times. Among the “prescribers” were prominent figures in American medicine, including Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine; Dr. Bernard Lown, developer of the defibrillator; Dr. Paul Farmer, infectious disease expert and founder of Partners in Health; and Dr. Mary Bassett, former New York City Health Commissioner.

Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, who in the late 1980s founded the nation’s leading single-payer physicians group, Physicians for a National Health Program, called the recent policy endorsements a “sea change for the medical profession,” noting that recent surveys found half of all doctors now favor national health insurance.

Dr. Fein, who is a member of SGIM as well as a board member and past-president of PNHP, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for Medicare for All even more urgent, as millions of Americans lose both their jobs and their health coverage. “Health care providers can no longer stand in silence while our health system puts profits ahead of patients and public health,” he said. “Single-payer Medicare for All is the only way to guarantee lifelong health coverage, eliminate financial barriers to care, and finally allow health care professionals to focus on what matters most — caring for patients.”

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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.

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