Tennessee Information

Sign our resolution

The United States of America is the only nation in the world that uses for-profit insurance companies to finance healthcare. While the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is a step forward, the law comes with the cost of a mandate that Americans do business with corporations whose primary purpose is to turn a profit for its shareholders... not provide quality health insurance. As outlined below, this has led to deficiencies in three metrics of healthcare: cost, coverage, and quality.

  • The USA spends 17.9% of its GDP on health care (versus the next highest, Netherlands’ 12.4%) than any other country in the world.
  • With over 30 million projected to still be uninsured once the PPACA is fully implemented, the USA will remain one of three major industrialized nations (Mexico and Turkey) that does not guarantee universal coverage and health insurance as a right to its citizens.
  • The USA is only ranked 37th in an overall health assessment by the World Health Organization.

These deficiencies have led to the USA paying the ultimate price for a broken healthcare system. A 2009 Harvard study concluded up to 45,000 die each year from a lack of insurance. In addition, over 2/3 of all personal bankruptcies were related to medical debts. To address these tragedies, Physicians for a National Program (PNHP) believes that access to high-quality health care is a right of all people and should be provided equitably as a public service rather than bought and sold as a commodity.

We support a single-payer, “Improved Medicare for All” health system where medical care is privately-delivered but publicly-funded. This will provide what experts dub the “Triple Aim”: more flexibility and provider choices by untethering health insurance and employment; lower costs by up to $592 billion annually ($476 billion on administrative costs and $116 billion on pharmaceutical costs); and provide universal coverage equitably for all citizens.

Harvard health economist Dr. William Hsiao who successfully implemented single-payer in 1994 to Taiwan’s failing healthcare system proclaimed, ”You can have universal coverage and good quality healthcare while still managing to control costs... but you need single­payer to do it.” We need your support, so please join the grassroots effort to support a single-payer system that 59% of doctors believe is the answer to the USA broken system.

All signers of this resolution endorse The Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act (HR 676) and American Health Security Act (S1782).


Chapter and Media Contacts

Arthur J. Sutherland III, MD, FACC - Tennessee Coordinator

Dr. Art Sutherland is a retired physician and founder of the Sutherland Cardiology Clinic. He practiced cardiology in Memphis for 33 years and was the founder and director of the Methodist Healthcare Cardiac Laboratories.

Dr. Sutherland is state coordinator of the Tennessee chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program and is a member of the national board of directors. He is currently working with the Healthy Memphis Common Table as an advocate for health equity initiatives that would improve population health. He is also a member of the Memphis School of Servant Leadership and co-facilitates a course in social justice.

Dr. Sutherland received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and medical degree from the University of Tennessee. He completed an internship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania  and residency at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center. His cardiology fellowship was at the UTHSC in Memphis, and St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease, and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.

He received the Dr. Quentin Young Health Activist Award from PNHP in 2013.

Roger S. LaBonte, MD, FACP - President, West Tennessee Chapter

Dr. Roger LaBonte practices part time as a hospitalist at Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi. He holds a volunteer appointment as a clinical associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), where he actively participates in the education of medical students and integrated programs with other medical disciplines.

Dr. LaBonte served 20 years in the US Navy and retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer. While in the Navy, he attended the University of Nebraska, where he received a BS in medical science. He received his medical degree from UTHSC. He completed his internal medicine residency at UTHSC and Baptist Memorial Hospital. Board-certified in internal medicine with a certificate of added qualification in geriatric medicine, he is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a distinguished fellow of the American College of Medical Quality.

Joe Blythe, MD, FCCP - West Tennessee Chapter

Dr. Joe Blythe received his medical degree from the University of Mississippi and completed his postgraduate training at the University of Tennessee with a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in pulmonary diseases. He practiced in that specialty in Memphis until 2007, then became board-certified in palliative medicine and is currently practicing in that speciality. He is a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and remains certified in that field. Dr. Blythe became interested in the work of Physicians for a National Health Program by witnessing the inefficiencies and shortcomings of our health care system in his practice.

Peg Hartig, PhD, FNP, APN - West Tennessee Chapter

Dr. Peg Hartig is a professor and chair of the department of primary care and public health. She has been a College of Nursing faculty member since 1987.

Dr. Hartig has practiced as a family nurse practitioner since 1977 in a variety of primary care clinics, an endocrinology specialty clinic, a nursing home and a disease management service. She also provides health care services and monitors the quality of nurse practitioner services provided at the Bobbitt Health Station, the health clinic at Memphis International Airport.

In addition to conducting quality improvement research and teaching related content in the graduate program, Dr. Hartig has written and spoken to many groups about faculty evaluation activities and development of evidence-based practice. She is a member of the Academic Nursing Center Special Interest Group and faculty development committee of the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties.

David Mirvis, MD - West Tennessee Chapter, TN Chapter Health Policy Advisor

Dr. David Mirvis will serve as the chapter’s health policy advisor. Dr. Mirvis received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in 1970, and subsequently trained in internal medicine and cardiology at the National Institutes of Health and at the University of Tennessee. He joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1975, where he currently is professor emeritus. At UT, he was the founder and director of the University’s Center for Health Services Research.

His other academic appointments include positions as adjunct professor in the Department of Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Senior Research Fellow in the Methodist LeBonheur Center for Health Economics at the University of Memphis.

Dr. Mirvis’ research interests include health care delivery processes and health policy as well as electrocardiography. He has published over 200 manuscripts and books on these topics.

Joseph A. Weinberg, MD - West Tennessee Chapter

Dr. Joe Weinberg, M.D. is a retired pediatric emergency medicine physician and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences. He was Director of Emergency Services at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, Memphis, Tennessee, and President of Pediatric Emergency Specialists, P.C. He has served on many local and state organizations related to emergency services and education. He believes that children should have access to appropriate health care regardless of their parents’ station in life or the whims of their parents’ employer. He is a long-time member of PNHP committed to the need to implement a universal, single payer health care system in the United States. Dr. Weinberg hopes that his experience in consulting on local political campaigns can help West Tennessee PNHP.

James S. Powers, MD, AGSF - Middle Tennessee Chapter

Dr. Jim Powers is associate professor of medicine Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he is director of the Vanderbilt-Reynolds Geriatrics Education Center, director of the geriatric medicine residency program, and chief of geriatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Powers received his medical degree from the University of Rochester. He completed residencies at the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve and a fellowship through the US Public Health System.

In Memoriam: J. I. Hudson Jr., MD - Middle Tennessee Chapter

Dr. Hudson was instrumental in starting the Middle Tennessee chapter of PNHP. His medical career included private practice in pediatrics, associate professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine, Associate Dean for Academic Medicine at the Univ. of Maryland School of Medicine, and associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management. He participated in efforts to establish nation-wide networks for quality assurance for acute hospital care in The Netherlands and Peninsular Malaysia, and consulted on matters of health care quality with the U.S. Health Care Financing Agency, the Select Committee on Aging of U.S. Congress, and USAID-supported primary health care programs in West Africa and the Middle East. Dr. Hudson passed away in 2012.

Raymond Feierabend, MD, FAAFP - East Tennessee, State of Franklin Chapter

Dr. Feierabend is professor and Director of Graduate Medical Education in the Department of Family Medicine at East Tennessee State University, Quillen College of Medicine. A native of Louisiana, he received his medical degree from Tulane University and completed his residency at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina. He established a rural National Health Service Corps practice in Dungannon, Virginia, before moving to the Quillen College of Medicine in 1982.

Robert Funke, MD - East Tennessee, State of Franklin Chapter

Dr. Bob Funke is a family physician at Mountain Region Family Medicine in Kingsport, Tennessee, where he is a founding member and past president of the board of directors. He is also a member of the executive committee at Wellmont Holston Valley Medical Center. Dr. Funke received his medical degree from Tulane University and completed his residency at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem.

State Organizations Endorsing HR676

  • Warren County, TN

Local Unions Endorsing HR676

  • Steelworker Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) Chapter 9-ABG 1, Kingsport, TN
  • Plumbers Local Union #17, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA), Memphis, TN

Tennessee State News

Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2018

By Carol Paris, M.D. | The Tennessean (Nashville), September 27, 2018
On Sept. 5, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, along with 19 other state AGs, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Posted on Tuesday, June 5, 2018

By Michael Aldrich and Jordyn Pair | The (Nashville) Tennessean, June 5, 2018
Twenty protesters from the Poor People's Campaign were arrested Monday outside the governor's office, according to the campaign. The protest was the campaign’s fourth consecutive protest over the past few weeks.

Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2017

By Marion Kirkpatrick | WSMV-TV (Nashville), July 18, 2017
Dr. Carol Paris, one of several protesters arrested at President Donald Trump’s rally in Nashville in March, was arrested again on Monday a protest in Washington D.C.

Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2017

By Kirk A. Bado | Tennessean, July 18, 2017
Dr. Carol Paris, one of several protesters who disrupted President Donald Trump's Nashville rally in March, was arrested by in Washington, D.C., on Monday for protesting the Republican health care plan.

Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2017

By Sue Sturgis | Facing South, July 12, 2017
As congressional Republicans try to pass an unpopular plan that would roll back the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and cause an estimated 22 million Americans to lose their health insurance, a House bill to expand the publicly-funded Medicare program from just senior citizens to every American is picking up record support — and not just among the usual progressive suspects but also from conservative Southern Democrats.

Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2017

By Carol Paris, M.D. | The Tennessean, March 23, 2017
I chose this action to bring visibility to another option for addressing the health care crisis — one that I believe provides the optimal use of our hard-earned tax dollars to provide quality health care for everyone living in the United States.

Posted on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

By Kirk A. Bado | The Tennessean, March 15, 2017
A protester interrupted President Donald Trump's Nashville rally at the Municipal Auditorium Wednesday night. Holding up a banner proclaiming "Improved Medicare for All," a demonstrator was met with a chorus of boos from the crowd and led to the president to stop mid-speech.

Posted on Friday, March 3, 2017

By Roger LaBonte, M.D. | The Tennessean, March 3, 2017
I do not understand why many businesses continue to support our current system. In fact, the only businesses that gain anything by this system of employer-provided health care are the insurance companies themselves, which continue to show huge profits while sucking profits from others.

Posted on Friday, March 3, 2017

By Nikki McGee | Fox 17 Nashville, March 3, 2017
The president of the Physicians for a National Health Care Program attended the meeting to talk about the state of healthcare and offer a solution. Dr. Carol Paris is advocating to expand Medicare and come up with a system that makes it available to everyone.

Posted on Sunday, February 26, 2017

By Katie Lee | Johnson City (Tenn.) Press, Feb. 26, 2017
We are all aware that the recent election is likely to bring change in the health care system of this nation, but we have a choice to make. During these tumultuous times in health care policy, the way forward is not to strip 20 million Americans of their health care by repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Instead, we should pursue the most equitable and just option — a single payer health care system.

Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2017

By Jessi Bohon | The Washington Post, Feb. 15, 2017
A video of me questioning Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) about how her party will replace the Affordable Care Act went viral last Friday. I had gone to her town hall meeting on Thursday near my home to ask what the poor and sick would do once they’re left without the law’s protections. The next night, I had the really weird experience of seeing myself on national television.

Posted on Saturday, November 12, 2016

By Arthur Sutherland, M.D. | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.), Nov. 8, 2016
The insurance industry puts profits first. That is not healthcare protection, nor is it adding affordability for the public good.

Posted on Monday, October 10, 2016

By Dr. Arthur J. Sutherland III | The Commercial Appeal, Oct. 9, 2016
The CA editorial on Sunday, Oct. 2 needs correcting ("Obamacare needs tweaks, not scrapping"). The editorial was a response to the Blue Cross Blue Shield decision not to sell insurance on the federal ACA exchanges next year in three of Tennessee’s largest cities.

Posted on Tuesday, October 4, 2016

By Carol Paris, M.D. | The Tennessean, Letters, Oct. 4, 2016
I've just received my letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee informing me that they have reached "the difficult yet necessary decision" to withdraw from the Nashville market. In one more year I can finally get some piece of mind; I will turn 65 and qualify for Medicare. What about my daughter and her family and all the other Tennesseans affected by this decision?

Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2016

By Dr. Loren A. Crown | The Commercial Appeal
The writer of the June 19 letter “Single-payer answer” correctly pointed out problems with the current system (i.e., profit-driven insurers, the pharmaceutical industry and providers) resulting in our nation seeing a decrease in longevity, a health care ranking behind 36 other nations, and yet a No. 1 cost rating.

Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

By Dr. Arthur J. Sutherland III | The Commercial Appeal
Your June 12 guest column by BlueCross BlueShield CEO J.D. Hickey was a lot of crying about how BCBS cannot afford to cover Tennessee patients in their marketplace insurance plans in 2017 (“Marketplace model means high costs in Tenn”). But what he didn’t say was that the insurance industry is part of the problem.

Posted on Monday, May 2, 2016

By Dr. Arthur J. Sutherland III | The Commercial Appeal
We need to understand that public policies that make health care worse are unethical policies. We need to expand and improve Medicare for All, a single-payer system that would bring health care equity and justice to everyone in the U.S.

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

By David and Carol Butler | The Tennessean
We were pleased to see this op-ed proclaiming the need for a truly universal single-payer system of health care such as one finds in all other "developed" countries.

Posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

By Monisha Bhatia, Margaret Axelrod, Emily Holmes, Mitchell Hayes and Connor Beebout | The Tennessean
Just over a year ago, Sharon, a fast food worker from Middle Tennessee, walked into the Vanderbilt emergency department in the worst pain of her life.

Posted on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

By Roger LaBonte | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)
Thank you for the July 30 guest column by Dr. Arthur J. Sutherland III, “Grow Medicare to save lives, money.” I agree completely with Sutherland’s opinion and conclusions. We need a comprehensive health care plan for all Americans.

Posted on Friday, July 31, 2015

By Arthur J. Sutherland III, M.D. | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)
Medicare, one of our nation’s most valuable and popular social programs, turns 50 on July 30, and we have the chance to make it even better.

Posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Single Payer News, April 7, 2015
The Chattanooga Area Labor Council endorsed H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, at its regular monthly meeting March 23, 2015, reports Gary Watkins, Council president. H.R. 676 is the national single-payer health care legislation sponsored by Congressman John Conyers, D-Mich. The bill currently has 48 co-sponsors including Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis, Tenn.

Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Single Payer News
On January 5, 2015, the Jackson Central Labor Council meeting in regular session "voted unanimously to endorse and support H.R. 676, the National Single Payer Legislation," reports Joe Coleman, president of the CLC.

Posted on Monday, June 2, 2014

By Arthur J. Sutherland III, M.D. | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)
The sad part of this story is that America spends twice as much per capita on health care as other countries, but gets inadequate results. We are the only developed country in the world not to provide universal coverage, and the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. 37th in overall health status compared to other nations.

Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014

By Laura Helfman, M.D.
PNHP note: The following is a letter that Dr. Laura Helfman sent to Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., on May 23, 2014.

Posted on Monday, March 10, 2014

The Chattanoogan
An organizational meeting for a new Southeast Tennessee chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program was held Thursday evening at Foodworks.

Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2013

By Diana Reed, M.D.
If someone collapsed on your doorstep, would you let them die there because they have no health insurance? Because as governor, that is exactly what you are doing. The poor and disabled, the most vulnerable of the people you represent, are being let down by the policies you espouse.

Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2012

By Arthur J. Sutherland III, M.D. | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 was just another symptom of the chaotic, costly and dysfunctional delivery system that we have lived with since World War II. We are an outlier among developed nations who all have more efficient and less costly national health programs that do a better job of delivering quality health care to all their populations.

Posted on Monday, January 9, 2012

By Arthur J. Sutherland III, M.D. | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)
I would agree that Medicare is not perfect. It has been manipulated by the medical industries' influence over Congress and needs to be fixed to function correctly. We need a national health program like all other capitalistic nations already have in one fashion or another that is suitable to them.

Posted on Monday, March 14, 2011

Dr. Arthur J. Sutherland III | Letters | Memphis Commercial Appeal
Our health system is really a health care market that is not "free" and has many distortions. PPACA is flawed because it continues our nation's reliance on an inefficient, wasteful and costly private insurance model of financing health care. Nationally we deny health care access to millions, bankrupt patients and families, ratchet up costs and frustrate efforts to improve quality.

Posted on Saturday, January 23, 2010

James Hudson, M.D. | Letter to the Editor | The Tennessean
Jack Irby of Smyrna is to be applauded for his stand on the issue of health care for Americans as being a right and not a privilege. He is on solid, rational ground when he concludes that the evidence is overwhelming that we must end the private insurance domination of health care in our country and move toward a publicly financed, single-payer Medicare for all approach.