Republican health care executive on single payer

The remedy is universal Medicare

By Jack Bernard
The Kansas City Star, July 1, 2012

We did end up with a health care reform law. But, strangely enough, it was stolen from Romneycare and the Republican side of the aisle simply because of the political cost to the Democrats of inaction. It is a horse put together by a committee — ineffective, complex and political. If Romneycare is any indication, it will clearly not control costs to the taxpayer, the top health care concern of most Americans.

The public does not understand the new health care reform law’s true benefits, which are substantial in regard to access. Short-term, Democrats will again lose independent voters in many swing states vital to their 2012 chances.

Plus, this administration squandered the chance for real reform, a simple expansion of Medicare. The “government takeover” catch phrase scared them off.

Universal Medicare is a concept that makes sense technically and fiscally. The U.S. currently has per capita health expenditure costs double that of other developed nations on single-payer systems.

Medicare For All can be paid for through payroll and employer taxes, just like Medicare and Social Security are now. It is affordable because private insurance marketing and administrative costs (30 percent of the premium) are eliminated for employees and the firms employing them. Costs can be controlled through the Independent Payment Advisory Board, an independent panel set up under Obamacare. And, just like those programs, it would find immediate acceptance by the American public after implementation.

For more information on costs and benefits, please go to the web site of Physicians for a National Health Program at

Taking the long view, universal Medicare will eventually be implemented in the U.S., because of increasing premium costs and cost shifting if nothing else. But in 15 or 20 years, our health care cost and quality problems will be even worse because of congressional inaction.

(Jack Bernard is a retired health care executive who formerly worked with Kansas hospitals on planning and cost containment issues. He is now a Republican county commissioner in Monticello, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta.)


By Don McCanne, MD

This op-ed is of special significance for us for two reasons: 1) Medicare for All is not only a liberal/progressive issue as these are the words of a Republican health care executive, and 2) The efforts of PNHP to communicate the single payer message are gaining traction as he cites us as an authoritative source.

Jack Bernard is to be commended for his persistent efforts to inform the public on a better health care alternative. We need to renew and expand our important work on behalf of health care justice for all. It's working.