PNHP statement on the Supreme Court deliberation of the Affordable Care Act

Health law, constitutional or no, fails to remedy ailment: doctors group

Press Release, March 26, 2012

Leaders of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 18,000 doctors who advocate for single-payer national health insurance, released the following statement today:

Regardless of whether the Supreme Court upholds or overturns the Affordable Care Act in whole or in part, the unfortunate reality is that federal health law of 2010 will not work: (1) it will not achieve universal coverage, as it leaves at least 26 million uninsured, (2) it will not make health care affordable to Americans with insurance, because gaps in their policies will leave them vulnerable to bankruptcy in the event of major illness, and (3) it will not control costs.

Why? Because the ACA perpetuates a dominant role for the private insurance industry.  That industry siphons off hundreds of billions of  health care dollars annually for overhead, profit and the paperwork it demands from doctors and hospitals; it denies care in order to increase insurers’ bottom line; and it obstructs any serious effort to control costs.

In contrast, a single-payer, improved-Medicare-for-all system would achieve all three goals – truly universal, comprehensive coverage; health security for our patients and their families; and cost control. It would do so by replacing private insurers with a single, nonprofit agency like Medicare that pays all medical bills, streamlines administration, and reins in costs for medications and other supplies through its bargaining clout.

The major provisions of the ACA do not go into effect until 2014. Although we will be counseled to “wait and see” how this reform plays out, we’ve seen how comparable reforms in Massachusetts and other states have worked over the past few decades. They have invariably failed our patients, foundering on the shoals of skyrocketing costs – even as they have profited the big private insurers and Big Pharma.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is not expected until June. Regardless of how it rules, we cannot wait for an effective remedy to our health care woes any longer, nor can our patients. The stakes are too high.

We pledge to continue our work for the only equitable, financially responsible and humane cure for our health care mess: single-payer national health insurance, an expanded and improved Medicare for all.


By Don McCanne, MD

The attention to the Supreme Court deliberations on the Affordable Care Act is an unfortunate distraction since, regardless of the outcome, intolerable levels of uninsurance, undersinsurance, and unaffordability will still be with us. We need to replace the Affordable Care Act with single-payer national health insurance, an expanded and improved Medicare for all.

Please share this pivotal message with others, and feel free to use it as a basis for other communications such as letters to the editor, op-eds, reports to community organizations, and any other modality that can educate others on this crucial issue.

Other resources:

PNHP statement on the passage of the Affordable Care Act (March 2010):

Fact sheet on single payer, improved Medicare for all:

Many other resources are available at