League of Women Voters calls for 'Medicare for all'

June 16, 2010    

Karen Green Stone and Rob Stone, M.D.,
Quentin Young, M.D., (312) 782-6006,
Mark Almberg, PNHP, (312) 782-6006,

Noting the Obama administration's new health law falls short of providing affordable care to all U.S. residents, the national convention of the League of Women Voters passed a resolution Monday calling on the group's board to "advocate strongly" for "an improved Medicare for all."

The convention's 600 delegates, meeting in Atlanta on the group's 90th anniversary, voted more than 2 to 1 in support of the measure. In the run-up to the national meeting, nearly identical resolutions were adopted by more than 50 local chapters and 11 state organizations of the League, which claims more than 150,000 members nationwide.

Although many other groups, including labor unions, religious denominations and medical associations, have gone on record in recent years in support of a single-payer health program, or an improved Medicare for all, the League's action is believed to be the first national endorsement of its type since Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March.

"The League's action is highly welcome and highly significant," said Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 17,000 doctors who support a single-payer system. "Among other things, it shows that its members are in tune with numerous polls indicating strong majority support for a government-sponsored, improved Medicare-for-all program.

"Such a program is urgently needed to bring to a close the economic and medical fiasco that is the tragic reality of our present health system - a condition which, sadly, the newly passed health law will not cure," he said.

The convention vote took place shortly before the arrival of Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama's secretary of health and human services, who was scheduled to address the gathering and to plug the administration's new health law. When Sebelius arrived, she was greeted by delegates holding a banner that read, "LWV Supports Improved Medicare for All."

While Sebelius was warmly received by the delegates, the Medicare-for-all message undoubtedly got through, Young said.

The health care resolution (see below) was promoted across the country by League members who built upon the group's previous declaration that a viable health care plan should be universal, affordable, accessible and funded by taxation rather than by insurance premiums.

The resolution was introduced at the Atlanta meeting by Karen Green Stone of Bloomington, Ind., who argued that the new law lacks effective cost controls and does nothing to eliminate wasteful paperwork and bureaucracy in the U.S. health system.

Green Stone commented after the vote, "The delegates at the meeting understood that it has never been more important to push for a single-payer plan, an improved Medicare for all. They loved our new slogan in Indiana: 'Health care reform: We're still for it ... and we're not done yet!'"

Single-payer advocates say replacing the nation's multiple private health insurers with a single streamlined, nonprofit, public insurance program would save about $400 billion annually in administrative costs, enough to provide all U.S. residents with comprehensive, quality care.

Health Care Resolution passed by LWVUS - June 14, 2010

Whereas the League of Women Voters of the United States believes quality health care at an affordable cost should be available to all U.S. residents; and

Whereas the current and proposed systems do not achieve the League goals of affordability and access to everyone; and

Whereas an improved Medicare for all, a publicly funded and privately delivered national health care plan, is consistent with this goal;

Therefore, be it resolved, we, the representatives of local and state Leagues assembled at the 2010 LWVUS Convention, call upon the LWVUS Board to advocate strongly for bills that legislate for improved Medicare for all.

Physicians for a National Health Program ( is an organization of more than 17,000 physicians who support a single-payer national health insurance program. To contact a physician-spokesperson in your area, visit or call (312) 782-6006.