'There is a better health plan, Mr. President'

Medicare-for-All doctors available for comment on State of the Union speech

Jan. 28, 2010

Margaret Flowers, M.D.
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.
David Himmelstein, M.D.
Oliver Fein, M.D.
Mark Almberg, PNHP, (312) 782-6006,

Rising to President Obama's challenge to others in his State of the Union address that they come up with a better approach to health care reform than his own, physicians who advocate for a single-payer program stepped forward this morning to again make the case for their alternative, which they say has solid public support.

Among them is Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician and congressional fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 17,000 physicians who support a single-payer system, who is traveling to the White House today to deliver an open letter to the president calling on him to meet with her and other Medicare-for-All advocates.

Also speaking out today are Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, co-founders of PNHP, primary care physicians in Cambridge, Mass., and professors at Harvard Medical School, who provided commentary in a blog in today's New York Times.

In her letter to Obama, Flowers notes how surprised she and others were when single-payer advocates were excluded from the early stages of the discussions on health reform. Flowers was one of several physicians, nurses and reform advocates who were arrested at Senate Finance Committee hearings last spring for standing up and asking in a dignified way why the Medicare-for-All option was "off the table."

Flowers writes: "I am asking you to meet with me because the solution is simple. Remove all of the industries who profit off of the American health care catastrophe from the table. Replace them with those who are knowledgeable in designing health systems and who are without ties to the for-profit medical industries. And then allow them to design an improved Medicare-for-All national health system."

Flowers then itemizes the advantages of adopting such a system, saying that it would cover everyone, save thousands of lives, relieve medical debt, control costs, help the economy, and restore the physician-patient relationship. Obama himself is on record noting only a single-payer plan would provide universal coverage: "The truth is unless you have what's called a single-payer system in which everyone's automatically covered, you're probably not going to reach every single individual."

The full text of Flowers' letter is available here, and the blog commentary by Woolhandler and Himmelstein is available here.

All three, plus several other physicians, are available for comment on the president's speech last night.

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.