Massachusetts physicians say reform in their state is no model for the nation

Nearly 200 sign ad urging single-payer health care reform

Nov. 17, 2009

Rachel Nardin, M.D.
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.
Mark Almberg, Physicians for a National Health Program, (312) 782-6006,

In a half-page advertisement appearing in Wednesday's (tomorrow's) Boston Globe, 196 Massachusetts physicians and physicians-in-training call the state's 2006 health reform plan "bad medicine" and warn against adopting the state's plan nationwide. The health bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives is closely modeled after the Massachusetts reform.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Massachusetts reform has left hundreds of thousands uninsured. The doctors' ad, which takes the form of a letter to their patients, warns that the state's plan is already failing. Health costs have escalated rapidly since the reform's implementation. According to the Boston Globe, the state's largest insurer will hit small businesses with average premium increases of 15 percent to 18 percent as of January 1.

As an alternative to Massachusetts-style reform, the letter proposes a single-payer health care plan - Medicare for All. Such reform would cover everyone and control costs through massive savings on bureaucracy as well as improved health planning.

"Physician voices have been conspicuously absent from the national debate on health care reform," said Dr. Rachel Nardin, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School and one of the letter's lead signers. "This letter is a chance to let our patients know that the current plans for reform will fail to control costs or to give American families real access to the health care they need."

Another lead signer of the letter, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a primary care doctor who is a professor of medicine at Harvard, noted, "This reform has left many of my patients worse off than before. Co-payments and deductibles are sky high and premiums are unaffordable. A middle-class woman who's 56 is forced to lay out at least $4,800 for a policy so skimpy that it pays nothing until she has paid another $2,000 in deductibles. Meanwhile, the state has drained funds from safety net hospitals and clinics to fund the reform, threatening the survival of the institutions that care for the hundreds of thousands who remain uninsured."


A PDF of the ad with its 196 signers can be found here:

The full text of the original letter can be found here:

For detailed price quotes on insurance available under the Massachusetts reform, see


Physicians for a National Health Program ( is an organization of 17,000 doctors who advocate for single-payer national health insurance. To contact a physician-spokesperson near you, visit or call (312) 782-6006.