Single-payer plan

By Henry Abrons, M.D.
San Francisco Chronicle, Letters, December 18, 2017

Regarding “Voters like it until they learn taxes will rise” (Open Forum, Dec. 12): Although Sally Pipes is correct that “implementing a single-payer system would require tens of billions of dollars in new taxes,” we should reject her conclusion that “voters won’t like it.”

As a physician, I spent decades explaining complicated issues to patients, and financing health care is less complicated than the problems people discuss with their doctors and nurses every day. So I have confidence that when voting, people are intelligent enough to understand that a tax for single-payer health care will replace all other payments. The bottom line: Individuals and businesses will come out ahead with many more “tens of billions of dollars” in savings than in new taxes.

The best estimate shows that California could cover everyone, expand benefits (including prescription drugs, dental care and more), and still save $37 billion over current spending. Single-payer can do that by replacing for-profit health insurance with a public program that gets rid of needless profit, simplifies administration, and negotiates fair prices. Proponents now include many elected officials and most doctors and nurses. Voters will hopefully agree that programs to improve health care should be based on evidence and not derailed by scare tactics.