Single-payer advocate speaks to Blue Dogs on health reform

June 19, 2009

Robert Stone, M.D., cell: (812) 369-6414, (812) 333-8085,
Mark Almberg, (312) 782-6006, cell: (312) 622-0996,

Dr. Robert Stone, a leader of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 16,000 physicians who advocate for single-payer national health insurance, spoke to the Health Care Task Force of the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition on Capitol Hill Thursday.

In his remarks, Stone emphasized how single-payer health reform, as embodied in the U.S. National Health Care Act, H.R. 676, is the most fiscally responsible way of addressing the nation's health care woes.

Stone said that by replacing the for-profit, private health insurance companies with a single-payer program -- an improved Medicare for All -- the United States would save more than $400 billion in administrative costs annually. He also said that single payer is only reform proposal that includes effective cost-containment provisions.

"In fact, the strongest argument for Medicare for All is that it is the most efficient reform proposal with the greatest ability to control costs," Stone said. "That is exactly why so many members of the 'medical-industrial complex' oppose such a plan, because, as the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has said, 'Remember that what the rest of us call health care costs, they call income.'

"In short, single payer is the only plan that pays for itself and covers everyone. It's fiscally conservative and socially responsible," Stone said.

The Blue Dog Coalition's Health Care Task Force was launched in March at the time of President Obama's White House summit on health care reform. It is chaired by Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, and its members include Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, Rep. John Barrow of Georgia, Rep. Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota and Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana, among others. Like the Blue Dog caucus itself, the task force emphasizes fiscal conservatism.

Rep. Hill helped arrange the invitation for Stone to speak to the group.

Several members of the Blue Dog caucus were co-sponsors of the single-payer bill, H.R. 676, in the 110th Congress.

Stone is the director and co-founder of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan (HCHP) and the state coordinator of Indiana for Physicians for a National Health Program. He has been an emergency department physician at Bloomington (Ind.) Hospital since 1983, and was the medical director of the Community Health Access Program Clinic in Bloomington from 2005 to 2007, until it was transformed into the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic. He continues to volunteer at the new clinic. He is assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine.

Born and raised in Evansville, Ind., Stone graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of Colorado Medical School. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Emergency Medicine.