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Maine Medical Association survey shows 64 percent support single payer

Membership survey shows strong support for a Medicare for All, single-payer approach to reform

By the editors
Maine Medicine Weekly Update, March 10, 2014

A recent survey of Maine Medical Association (MMA) members showed an increase in the percentage of members supporting a single-payer approach to health system reform. The survey, completed by more than 450 respondents, included the following question:

"When considering the topic of health care reform, would you prefer to make improvements to the current public/private system or a single-payer system such as a 'Medicare for all' approach?"

Sixty-four and three-tenths percent (64.3%) of respondents indicated that they preferred the single-payer option compared to the alternative "Improvements to the current public/private system," which garnered support from 35.7% of those respondents who answered the question. The nearly two-thirds who indicated the single-payer preference represents an increase from the previous membership survey in 2008, in which just over half (52.3%) indicated preference for the single-payer option while 47.7% preferred improvements to the current system.

The question presented was worded precisely the same in each of the surveys.

In the recent survey, conducted in January, there was little to no difference in response to the question based upon age, geographic location, or MMA membership status. There was, however, a significant difference based upon specialty, with primary care physicians and psychiatrists tending to more heavily favor the single-payer option than physicians in other medical specialties. Respondents from practices that were owned by the physicians themselves were less likely to prefer the single-payer option and more likely to prefer improving the current system.  

The survey had a total of 462 respondents of whom 85% were physicians and 15% were medical students. 87% of the respondents were MMA members. The respondents make up approximately 13% of MMA members. The survey was conducted by Crescendo Consulting Group in Portland on behalf of MMA as part of the Payment Reform grant awarded by the Maine Health Access Foundation. The survey was also requested by a group of members who presented a Resolution at the 2013 Annual Meeting asking for the survey to be updated from 2008.

More details of the survey will be placed on the Association's website at www.mainemed.com by the end of this week.

While the survey demonstrates strong support for a single-payer system by those members who responded to the survey, MMA's formal policy position on health system reform, developed originally in 2003 and updated in 2010, is in support of universal coverage for all Mainers to be achieved through a combination of public and private health plans.