- October 20 - Last month 10,000 physicians announced their support for single payer national health insurance; their proposal for reform appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association and received widespread media attention (www.pnhp.org).
Today the physicians' group was 'pleased but not surprised' that public support for a ''universal health insurance program, in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that's run by the government and financed by taxpayers" is high and rising rapidly. By a 2:1 margin (62 percent to 32 percent), an ABC News - Washington Post Poll released today found that the public favors national health insurance to the current health insurance system, in which most people get their health insurance from private employers, but some people have no insurance.
What's new about this groundswell of public support for single payer is that it includes the middle-class. "The middle-class is hurting," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an expert on bankruptcy in health care and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard. "Homeowners, people earning more than $50,000 a year, even a substantial number of physicians find themselves locked out from coverage."
The poll also found that 8 in 10 people think it is important to cover all the uninsured 'even if it means higher taxes'. Dr. Woolhandler noted that "Americans already pay the highest health care taxes in the world. We pay for national health care but we don't get it. We don't need more money in the system; we can save enough on paperwork (by adopting a single payer
system) to cover everyone. That's been proven over and over."
"What's striking is not the high level of public support for reform; our system's been in critical condition for years," said Dr. Quentin Young, National Coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program. "Support for reform is a 'no-brainer.' What's striking, and shameful, is the way our elected officials ignore the remedy for the crisis because of opposition by powerful groups like the insurance and drug companies. In 1996, after 50 years of support, even the Democratic Party dropped national health insurance from its platform".
Dr. Alan Jackson, an African-American cardiologist who was featured on the ABC Evening News Sunday night, said that the despite massive public popularity, the issue is virtually dismissed by major newspapers, as well as some TV networks. "There's incredible media bias on this issue, when there isn't simply a blanket media blackout," said Dr. Jackson. He noted that the New York Times ran a prominent story on 2 dissatisfied Canadian doctors over the weekend, but completely neglected to report on more than 10,000 U.S. doctors expressing dissatisfaction with the U.S. system and endorsing national health insurance. "The media is getting the story wrong. We spend two to three times more on health care than other nations, yet it's the U.S. health system that's broken. How much worse does it have to get"?
"We need to have an open, vigorous debate over national health insurance," said Dr. Don McCanne, a retired family practitioner and President of Physicians for a National Health Program. "This polling data is encouraging, but what if Americans knew that a single payer system would give them free choice of physicians, instead of the limited choices they have now? What if Americans knew that we are already spending enough money to eliminate the long, sometimes unlimited, waits for care that the uninsured experience, as well as the waits by people trapped in HMOs? We need an honest debate so that people can separate the myths from the facts."
"A universal program of national health insurance would provide affordable, comprehensive care for everyone," said Dr. McCanne. "According to this poll, that's exactly what Americans wan
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) has spokespeople across the US. For a contact in your area, please call 312-782-6006. www.pnhp.org