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Use H.R. 676 to unify the reform movement

Doctors group hails reintroduction of Medicare-for-all bill

Physicians for a National Health Program, February 4, 2015

Single-payer health program would cover all 42 million uninsured, upgrade everyone’s benefits and save $400 billion annually on bureaucracy, physicians say

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 last night by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., with 44 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 a Medicare-for-all system, also known as a single-payer system, would vastly simplify how the nation pays for care, improve patient health, restore free choice of physician, eliminate copays and deductibles, and yield substantial savings for individuals, families and the national economy.

“The global evidence is very clear: single-payer financing systems are the most equitable and cost-effective way to assure that everyone, without exception, gets high-quality care,” said Dr. Robert Zarr, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, a nonprofit research and educational group of 19,000 doctors nationwide.

“Medicare is a good model to build on, and what better way to observe Medicare’s 50th anniversary year than to improve and extend the program and its benefits to people of all ages?”

Zarr, a Washington, D.C.-based pediatrician, continued: “An expanded and improved Medicare-for-All 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 our nation’s patients and their families are increasingly running up against, often with calamitous results.

“Such a plan would save over $400 billion a year currently wasted on private-insurance-related bureaucracy, paperwork and marketing. That’s enough money to provide first-dollar coverage for everyone in the country – without increasing U.S. health spending by a single penny.

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2015/february/doctors-group-hails-reintroductio...

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H.R.676 - To provide for comprehensive health insurance coverage for all United States residents, improved health care delivery, and for other purposes.

114th Congress

Introduced:  02/03/2015

Sponsor:  Rep. Conyers, John, Jr. [D-MI-13] (Introduced 02/03/2015)

Cosponsors:  44

Committees:  House - Energy and Commerce; Natural Resources; Ways and Means

Latest Action:  02/03/2015 Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, and Natural Resources, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/676/cosponsors

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Comment:

By Don McCanne, MD

Last night, Rep. John Conyers reintroduced in the 114th Congress H.R. 676, his single payer bill based on an expanded and improved Medicare that would cover everyone. Although the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has diverted attention from this model of reform that actually would provide affordable care for everyone, nevertheless, its reintroduction provides us with actual legislation that we can use in our advocacy for a more efficient and effective health care program for the nation.

Those who are attempting to establish state-level single payer systems will find this legislation to be essential since it addresses the federal barriers that prevent states from establishing a bona fide single payer system. Vermont’s experience showed us that they had to abandon the single payer concept early on because of these barriers, though they continue to try to move forward with incremental measures that can never lead to single payer, that is without enabling federal legislation.

H.R. 676 should be used by all supporters of health care justice as an advocacy piece to further educate the public at large on the clear moral imperative of the single payer model. That includes those working on state single payer systems and those busy helping to implement the Affordable Care Act. No matter how busy you are, you still need to use every opportunity to advocate for a system that takes care of the health care needs of the entire nation. The Affordable Care Act does not do that.

H.R. 676 has been posted to the Congress.gov website (link above), and within the next few days, the entire text of the bill will be added. Right now you can see the list of the 44 cosponsors and then use that list to encourage other members of Congress to become cosponsors as well. The Republicans concur that the Affordable Care Act needs to be replaced with a program that actually is affordable and portable. A minority of Republican and Independent voters understand that an improved Medicare for everyone would be an ideal solution. As we craft our messages, we must keep Republicans and Independents in mind. We care about their health as well.

At any rate, make H.R. 676 the central piece of your advocacy for health care justice for all. The nation’s health depends on it.