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Doctors group hails reintroduction of Medicare-for-all bill

Single-payer health program would cover all 50 million uninsured, upgrade everyone’s benefits and save $400 billion annually on bureaucracy, physicians say

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Feb. 14, 2013
Contact: Mark Almberg, communications director, (312) 782-6006, mark@pnhp.org

A national physicians group today hailed the reintroduction of a federal bill that would upgrade the Medicare program and swiftly expand it to cover the entire population.

The “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” H.R. 676, introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and 37 other House members, would replace today’s welter of private health insurance companies with a single, streamlined public agency that would pay all medical claims, much like Medicare works for seniors today.

Proponents say the publicly financed plan would vastly simplify how the nation pays for care, improve patient health, restore free choice of physician, and yield substantial savings for individuals, families and businesses.

“The evidence is clear: an improved-Medicare-for-all program is the most equitable and cost-effective way to assure that everyone, without exception, gets high-quality care,” said Dr. Andrew Coates, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, a nonprofit research and advocacy group of 18,000 doctors nationwide. “Nothing less will do the job.”

“A single-payer program would assure truly universal coverage, cover all necessary services, and knock down the growing financial barriers to care – high premiums, co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance – that my patients are running up against, often with calamitous results,” he said.

Coates, an Albany, N.Y.-based internist, continued: “Such a plan would save over $400 billion a year currently wasted on private-insurance-related bureaucracy, paperwork and marketing – money that should be used to care for patients. Such a program would also have the financial muscle to negotiate with drug and medical suppliers for lower prices, and would further save money through lump-sum budgeting for hospitals.

“In short,” he said, “the enactment of Rep. Conyers’ bill would take us much further than the 2010 health law, which despite its modest benefits will not be able to control costs and which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will still leave 30 million people uninsured in 2023.

Surveys have repeatedly shown that about two-thirds of the public supports a Medicare-for-all approach,” Coates said. “And a recent survey of physicians shows that a solid majority now favor government legislation to create national health insurance.”

“As a doctor who sees hard-pressed patients every day, I can tell you that the need for fundamental health care reform has never been greater,” he said. “It’s time to stop putting the interests of private insurance companies and Big Pharma over patient needs. It’s time to adopt a single-payer, improved-Medicare-for-all program in the United States.”

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Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org) is a nonprofit research and educational organization of 18,000 physicians who advocate for single-payer national health insurance, an improved Medicare for all. To speak with a physician/spokesperson in your area, visit www.pnhp.org/stateactions or call (312) 782-6006.