WASHINGTON – Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a nonprofit research and education organization whose 24,000 members support single-payer national health insurance, endorses the Medicare for All Act of 2021, filed today by lead sponsors Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) along with 110 additional co-sponsors, representing more than half of House Democrats.
“Physicians cannot give patients the care they need in a fractured and profit-driven system,” said Dr. Susan Rogers, a Chicago-based internal medicine physician and president of PNHP. “For too long, doctors have watched helplessly as our patients delayed or skipped needed care — even walked out of our hospital doors — because they could not afford to pay.”
Dr. Rogers added that subsidizing commercial insurance to cover uninsured Americans, as was done in the recent American Rescue Plan, is an expensive and dangerous approach. “The fatal flaw of commercial insurance plans are their financial firewalls — deductibles and copays — that keep patients from seeking timely care,” said Dr. Rogers. “These costs have a negative effect on patient health, but are overlooked in Congress’ current fixation on premiums.”
The Medicare for All Act is the only plan that puts patients first: It guarantees health care for everyone in the U.S. for life, with free choice of hospital and medical provider, and no financial firewalls to stand in the way of care. Unlike commercial plans, Medicare for All covers all medically necessary services, including hospital and doctor visits; dental, vision, hearing, mental health, and reproductive care; long-term care; ambulatory services; and prescription drugs.
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Besides bringing down health costs for families, experts predict that single-payer Medicare for All would save more than $600 billion annually by slashing the administrative waste of commercial insurance, including the paperwork burdens that insurers impose on hospitals and doctors. In addition, more than $100 billion would be saved by negotiating drug prices with manufacturers.
For the past year, PNHP leaders — many of whom serve as frontline health workers — have warned that Covid-19 will prey on the weakness of the U.S. health system and exacerbate our long standing racial and class inequities: Despite having less than 5% of the global population, America has 25% of the world’s confirmed cases and 20% of the world’s deaths from Covid.
A new report issued yesterday by Public Citizen found that about one-third of U.S. Covid deaths were tied to a lack of insurance, and that hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of infections would likely have been prevented if the U.S. had Medicare for All. This report follows a landmark study published earlier this year in The Lancet that found nearly half a million deaths would have been averted since 1980 if U.S. death rates had matched those of other wealthy nations with national health programs.
“We can’t let Congress sit on their hands while our patients suffer and die needlessly,” said Dr. Rogers. “It’s time to invest in a system that is designed to improve health outcomes, not profit margins. It’s time for single-payer Medicare for All.”
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