Posted on June 24, 2009

Physicians to tell House panels: single payer is only true health reform


Doctors say Democrats’ plan offers micro-coverage for macro-costs

Media Advisory
June 23, 2009

Quentin Young, M.D., (312) 782-6006
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.,
Mark Almberg, PNHP, (312) 782-6006, cell: (312) 622-0996,

Two leading physician advocates for single-payer national health insurance will testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday, June 24, telling lawmakers that the latest House “Tri-Committee” proposal to reform the U.S. health care system — with or without a “public plan option” — will be unable to deliver on its stated goal of providing comprehensive and sustainable health coverage to all Americans. Only single payer can accomplish that goal, they will say.

Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, is scheduled to testify shortly after 9 a.m. EDT before the House Ways and Means Committee in the main committee hearing room, 1100 Longworth House Office Building. The committee is chaired by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).

Dr. Young’s testimony reads in part: “I wish to make two points to the Members of this Committee. The first is that the best health policy science, literature, and experience indicate that the Tri-Committee proposal will fail miserably in its purported goal of providing comprehensive, sustainable health coverage to all Americans. And it will fail whether or not it includes a so-called ‘public option’ health plan. The second point is that single-payer national health insurance is not just the only path to universal coverage, it is the most politically feasible path to health care for all, because it pays for itself, requiring no new sources of revenue.”

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a primary care physician in Cambridge, Mass., is set to testify before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee at 1 p.m. EDT or shortly thereafter in Room 2123 of the Rayburn Office Building.

Her testimony reads in part: “As research I published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed, a single-payer reform could save about $400 billion annually by shrinking health care bureaucracy — enough to cover the uninsured and to provide first dollar coverage for all Americans. A single-payer system would also include effective cost-containment mechanisms like bulk purchasing and global budgeting. As a result, everyone would be covered with no net increase in U.S. health spending. But these savings aren’t available unless we go all the way to single payer.”

Both Dr. Young and Dr. Woolhandler will be available for comment upon the adjournment of their respective panels.