For truly affordable health care, embrace single-payer

By John M. Rice
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Letters, Jan. 11, 2017

Two recent articles, “House Republicans Work to Dismantle ACA” (Jan. 5) and “Uncertainty Over the Future of Obamacare May Drive Insurers Away” (Jan. 3), have generated responses from people rightfully concerned about what the future holds for their prospects of getting or keeping “affordable” health care.

Concerns aren’t only with those covered by the ACA. Others like myself who have employer-provided health insurance are also facing uncertainties about their health insurance with increases in premiums outpacing earnings and inflation and deductibles rising faster than premiums (from JAMA).

Fortunately, there is a solution for everyone that is already supported by 58 percent of Americans: Move to a single-payer plan. Rep. John Conyers’ bill — HR 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All — can get the U.S. on par with most other industrialized nations and provide health care to all citizens regardless of their employment, income or status of their health.

One can easily Google and read the complete text of HR 676. At only 30 pages, the benefits are easily understood. Every American would be covered; no one would be excluded. This creates the largest and most efficient risk pool by spreading the costs for care over the entire population. All medically necessary care would be funded through the single payer, including doctor visits, hospital care, prescriptions, mental health services, nursing home care, rehab, home care, eye care and dental care. There would be no fees for any service at the point of delivery. No surprise medical bills, no co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles. Funding would come from the 60 percent of health care costs that are currently publicly funded, payroll taxes on employers and income taxes on individuals. Most people’s taxes would be lower than what they currently pay for health insurance. Administrative costs present in our fragmented system would be reduced for physician offices, hospitals and businesses providing health insurance coverage to their employees.

It wouldn’t take long to read the bill and a lot of other information on how single payer would work (see the Physicians for a National Health Program,, and the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare, Decide for yourself if it makes sense. If that is the case, contact your congressman and let him know how you feel. We’re about to take a step backward when we can, and should, do better.

The writer is a filmmaker at work on a film in support of single-payer healthcare. He resides in Mt. Lebanon.