Single-payer doctors available to speak on budget talks, Medicare and Medicaid

Media advisory

July 15, 2011

Mark Almberg, PNHP communications director, (312) 782-6006,

As tense budget negotiations in Washington continue, leaders of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 18,000 doctors who support single-payer national health insurance, are calling upon the White House and Congress to safeguard vital social insurance programs (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) while simultaneously calling for a durable fix to the nation’s health care woes: the enactment of an “improved Medicare for all,” a single-payer health system.

The physicians say a national, nonprofit single-payer system, by replacing the private health insurance industry and our current patchwork of public insurance programs with a streamlined, publicly financed social insurance fund, would save $400 billion annually in unnecessary administrative costs – enough to provide quality, comprehensive, first-dollar coverage to the entire population, including the 51 million people who are currently uninsured.

Under an improved Medicare for all, the delivery of care would remain largely private, co-pays and deductibles would be eliminated, and patients would enjoy unrestricted choice of doctor and hospital. The new system would also leverage its bargaining power to control costs over the long haul.

PNHP spokespeople from across the country are available for interview about the proposals for changing Medicare and Medicaid coming from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and on the pressing need for a durable, comprehensive and cost-saving single-payer program. Their biographies and photos appear below in alphabetical order. To place a request, please contact Mark Almberg, PNHP communications director, (312) 782-6006 or e-mail

Garrett Adams, M.D., M.P.H., Louisville, Ky.
Dr. Garrett Adams is president of PNHP. He is a pediatrician specializing in infectious disease and infectious disease epidemiology in Louisville, Ky. He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Vanderbilt University and medical degree from Wake Forest University. He completed his residency at Vanderbilt University Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. He is retired from being a full-time faculty member at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, where he was chief of pediatric infectious diseases. He has also served as medical director of communicable diseases at the Louisville Metro Health Department. Since retiring, he has founded the Beersheba Springs Medical Clinic, a comprehensive ambulatory clinic in the underserved community of Beersheba Springs, Tenn. For 40 years Dr. Adams attended the health care needs of sick children and their young families.

Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., M.P.H., Miami, Fla.
Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo is a nationally recognized expert on health disparities. He is an associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. His research interests include minority health, health insurance, managed care and access to care, particularly among Latinos. Prior to his position in Miami, he was on the faculty of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons for 12 years and directed their NIH-designated Center of Excellence in Health Disparities Research. Dr. Carrasquillo serves on the Advisory Committee of the HHS Office of Minority Health. He is available for interviews in English and Spanish.

Claudia Fegan, M.D., F.A.C.P., CHCQM, Chicago
Dr. Claudia Fegan is interim chief medical officer at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System and past president of PNHP. An internist who has practice in both private settings and in large public systems, she has lectured extensively to both medical and lay audiences on health care reform across the United States. She is co-author of the book "Universal Health Care: What the United States Can Learn from Canada" and a contributor to another book, "10 Excellent Reasons for National Health Care." The daughter of labor union organizer and a social worker, Dr. Fegan received her undergraduate degree from Fisk University and her M.D. from the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Oliver Fein, M.D., New York City
Dr. Oliver Fein is immediate past president of PNHP. A general internist who is active in clinical practice, he is also professor of clinical medicine and clinical public health at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where he serves as associate dean responsible for the Office of Affiliations and the Office of Global Health Education. Dr. Fein has advocated for an expanded role for primary care, for academic health centers in urban health care delivery systems, and for national health system reform. He was Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow during 1993-1994, when he worked in the office of Senate Democratic Majority Leader George Mitchell. He spent 17 years at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center developing community-based ambulatory care practices and the Division of General Medicine. He is chair of the N.Y. Metro chapter of PNHP and past vice president of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Fein participated in the 2009 White House Summit on Health Reform as a result of public pressure.

Margaret Flowers, M.D., Baltimore
Dr. Margaret Flowers is a Maryland pediatrician with experience as a hospitalist at a rural hospital and in private practice. She is currently serving as a national board advisor for PNHP. In addition to her activity with PNHP, she is a national board member of another national single-payer advocacy group, Healthcare-Now! Dr. Flowers obtained her medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and did her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She testified before President Obama’s Deficit Commission in 2010, and in June 2009 she testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. A little more than a month prior to that, she was among those who stood up and spoke in support of putting single payer "on the table" at the May 5 meeting chaired by Sen. Max Baucus of the Senate Finance Committee, leading to her arrest along with seven others.

David Himmelstein, M.D., F.A.C.P., New York City/Boston
Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-founder of PNHP, is professor at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College and visiting professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. As a practicing internist, he has also served as chief of the division of social and community medicine at Cambridge Hospital in Cambridge, Mass. He co-founded the Center for a National Health Program Studies at Harvard. Dr. Himmelstein co-edits PNHP’s newsletter and is a principal author of PNHP articles published in the JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine. His research focuses on problems in access to care, administrative waste, and the advantages of a national health program. He recently co-authored, with Dr. Steffie Woolhandler and others, a study published in the American Journal of Medicine showing that medical bills and illness are now linked to 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies, with 78 percent of those bankrupted having had insurance when they got sick.  In 2009 he testified before the House Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, one of many occasions where he has spoken before Congress.

Paul Y. Song, M.D., Los Angeles
Dr. Paul Song is a radiation oncologist practicing at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, and he is an adjunct faculty member at the John Wayne Cancer Institute. He has served as an attending physician at Inova Fairfax Hospital, co-chief of the brachytherapy service at the Center for Prostate Disease Research at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and as medical director of the Little Company of Mary/University of Chicago radiation oncology department. He was named one of the top doctors in Washington, D.C., by Washingtonian Magazine and Consumer Checkbook in 2002 and 2005. Dr. Song has established successful HDR (breast, prostate, and GYN) and prostate seed brachytherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and IMRT programs de novo and has published several articles on the treatment of prostate cancer and brain tumors. Dr. Song graduated with honors from the University of Chicago and received his medical degree from George Washington University. He completed his residency in radiation oncology at the University of Chicago where he also served as chief resident and was honored as an ASTRO research fellow by the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology for his research in genetic radiotherapy. Dr. Song was also a visiting brachytherapy fellow at the Institut Gustave Roussy in Villejuif, France.

Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P., New York City/Boston
Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a co-founder of PHNP, is professor at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College and visiting professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She has served as co-director of Harvard’s General Internal Medicine Fellowship program, and worked for many years as a primary care physician at Cambridge Hospital in Cambridge, Mass. She served in 1990-91 as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy fellow at the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Congress. Dr. Woolhandler is a frequent speaker and has written extensively on health policy. She is a principal author of many PNHP articles published in the JAMA, the New England Journal of Medicine and other professional journals. In 2009, she testified before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law about medical causes of bankruptcy. She also co-authored, with Dr. David Himmelstein and others, a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health showing that nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance.

Quentin D. Young, M.D., M.A.C.P., Chicago
Dr. Quentin Young, an internist who recently retired from a decades-long practice in the Hyde Park community on Chicago’s South Side, is national coordinator of PNHP. He is clinical professor of preventive medicine and community health at the University of Illinois Medical Center. Dr. Young graduated from Northwestern Medical School and did his residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. During the 1970s and early 1980s, he served as chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Cook County, where he established the Department of Occupational Medicine. He has been a member of the American Medical Association since 1952. In addition distinguished career as a physician, Dr. Young has been a leader in public health policy and medical and social justice issues. He was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s personal physician during Dr. King's stays in Chicago. In 1998, he had the distinction of serving as president of the American Public Health Association and in 1997 was inducted as a master of the American College of Physicians.