The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) published a proposal from a group of over 2,000 physicians calling for a government-run single-payer system of healthcare in the United States. The plan is similar to Canada’s system and, according to the proposal, is much needed in order to complete the public health plan that the Affordable Care Act started but cannot accomplish alone.
The new single-payer system would be funded mostly by existing US government funding. The physicians point out that the US government already pays for two-thirds of all healthcare spending in the US, and a single-payer system would cut down on administrative costs, so a transition to a single-payer system would not require significant additional spending.
“Our patients can’t afford care and don’t have access to the care they need, while the system is ever more wasteful, throwing away money on bureaucratic expenses and absurd prices from the drug companies,” said David Himmelstein, a professor in the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College and lecturer on medicine at Harvard Medical School.
One of the designs of this proposal is to excite others in the healthcare world to action by illustrating the need for big steps forward.
“There has been a conviction that we can approach this incrementally and get there in small steps and one of the advantages of having passed the ACA is that modest steps can’t do the job, and in a way make it easier to make arguments that we need more fundamental changes,” said Himmelstein.
The ACA was an important step but it is naive to think it is the solution to our healthcare system. This group of physicians believe that now is the time to continue making more progressive steps forward.
“Our nation is at a crossroads,” said Dr. Adam Gaffney, a Boston-based pulmonary disease and critical care specialist, lead author of the editorial and co-chair of the Working Group that produced the proposal.
“Despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act six years ago, 30 million Americans remain uninsured, an even greater number are underinsured, financial barriers to care like co-pays and deductibles are rising, bureaucracy is growing, provider networks are narrowing, and medical costs are continuing to climb.
The argument in the Democratic primaries and going forward in the Democratic Party will be between the more moderate view held by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that we can only hope to make change incrementally, and the more progressive side of the Democratic Party that believes we need to move to a single-payer system in order to really change the culture and outcomes of our healthcare system. The fact of the matter is both sides of this argument will need to have more democratic control of our legislature to really show what they are (or are not) made of because the Republican Party of this culture has no plan except to take away more insurance, while still handing over our money to the insurance companies that won’t be insuring us.
Comments are closed on this story.