Posted on December 1, 2006

HMO-Founder Calls System a Failure, Calls for Medicare for All


Book Details Health Care System Crisis

By Amy Bentley-Smith
Long Beach News, November 30, 2006
Features Editor

Dr. Robert Gumbiner, a leader in the field of managed health care in the United States, lays out his remedy for the nation’s ailing health care system in a new book he penned with his daughter, editor Alis Gumbiner.

From 3 to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 2, the Gumbiners will be signing copies of “Curing Our Sick Health Care System: A Solution to America’s Health Care Crisis” at Shore Books, 4817 E. Second St.

A longtime Long Beach resident, Gumbiner founded what would become one of the largest pre-paid Health Management Organizations (HMO) practices in the United States, FHP, in 1961. FHP would lead the way in establishing prepaid health care for the state’s Medi-Cal/Medicaid program for the low-income individuals and families, and received the first contract for federal Medicare service on the west coast.

In “Curing Our Health Care System,” Gumbiner argues that the country needs a single payer, Medicare-type system that is available to all.

“If you’re over 65 you get covered by Medicare, but if you’re under 65 you don’t. We all pay taxes,” he said, adding that giving coverage to a select group is a form of discrimination.

Such a universal system is not out of reach and could be financed with the amount of money spent on health care today, Gumbiner contends.

“I’m a firm believer that there’s enough money being spent right now with employeremployee contributions and the federal government that everyone can be covered,” Gumbiner said.

In the book, Gumbiner offers a history of the current health care system and why it is dysfunctional — mainly a result of it being too profit driven at all levels — before offering his suggestions for fixing it. He said he’s not re-inventing the wheel.

“We’ve already done most of these things,” he said of his solutions. “We just need a white knight, some politician who has the courage to go up against the prescription drug companies and for-profit hospitals and stand firm.…

“I wrote it… to help the decision makers, the policy makers be better informed. There are not too many out there offering solutions.”

Available at Shore Books and online at, “Curing Our Sick Health Care System” is Gumbiner’s third book. He previously wrote “HMO: Putting it All Together” in 1975 and “FHP: The Evolution of A Managed Care Health Maintenance Organization 1955-1992” in 1994.