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Solution to challenge of providing health care to all is a single-payer system, say experts, advocates

ACA doesn't fix U.S. health care system, must be replaced with Medicare-for-All

By Public Citizen Inc.
National Journal, Press Release, May 21, 2014

WASHINGTON -- There is a solution to the challenge of providing health care coverage to the 50 million Americans who are uninsured, and that solution is a Medicare-for-All, single-payer system, a panel of experts and advocates said today.

The panel kicks off two days of events highlighting the benefits of a single-payer system, which would curb out-of-control health care costs and provide a humane standard of care to all who enter the medical system. Participants of the events include All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care-HR 676, American Medical Student Association, Gray Panthers, Healthcare-NOW!, Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare, National Nurses United, National Organization for Women, Physicians for a National Health Program, Progressive Democrats of America and Public Citizen.

"We need a system that provides coverage as a matter of right, and that eliminates the wasteful role of the health insurance industry," said Robert Weissman, Public Citizen president. "We know there's a better way, as every other industrialized country shows. It's past time for the United States to provide health care coverage to everyone as a matter of right, through a national single-payer, Medicare-for-All system."

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not solve the central problems with the American health care system. After the ACA is fully implemented, millions of vulnerable people still will go without coverage, and tens of millions will remain underinsured, facing substantial deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance. A single-payer system would achieve far greater savings than the ACA, which maintains the role of the costly and wasteful private insurance industry. It also would be less complicated to put into place because it is already in place for Americans over 65 in the form of Medicare.

"The Affordable Care Act is reducing the number of uninsured, yet at the end of the day, it is not a program of universal access to care," said Dr. Andrew Coates, Physicians for a National Health Program president. "Because the major failings of the U.S. system still persist -- avoidable death and bankruptcy, racial and socioeconomic disparities, the perverse incentives of profiteering, burgeoning costs -- the urgency for single-payer national health insurance has never been greater."

Added U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), "In 2014, it is long past time to recognize affordable, quality health care as a basic human right. While the Affordable Care Act was a historic first step, the only way we can wholly reform the United States' broken health care model -- and provide truly universal coverage to all Americans -- is through a single-payer system. It is for these reasons that, since 2003, I have repeatedly introduced H.R. 676, 'The Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act,' that would publicly finance and privately deliver health care to millions of Americans that were previously left behind. The fight for lasting, transformative health care reform that single-payer promises is far from over, and it is only through the efforts of dedicated activists that will keep us marching forward towards progress."

Added Deborah Burger, National Nurses United co-president, "Registered Nurses see patients suffer every day in a health system dominated by private insurance companies, which restrict access and deny care, as workers increasingly bear the burden of higher health care costs. We must guarantee health care for all based on a single standard of high quality care by establishing a publicly financed and administered system."

Support for a single-payer health care system is rapidly growing across the United States. More than 58,000 Americans have signed petitions urging legislators to heed the call and implement a Medicare-for-All system.

Gerald Friedman, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said, "The single-payer movement is expanding rapidly, with active campaigns in over 20 states. It is likely that there will be referendum campaign in the next few years in several states with advocates looking to establish single-payer system level in 2017. State single-payer system will provide an example that will break the political logjam and inspire national single-payer within the next decade."

On Thursday, advocates will join lawmakers for a press briefing on the need for single-payer legislation and then will visit offices of members of Congress and urge them to take action on implementing a national, single-payer health system.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/library/156536