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Doctors Call for Single-Payer Alternative to Obamacare

Doctors Call for Single-Payer Alternative to Obamacare
(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Thursday, 05 May 2016 03:33 PM

Doctors, as a group, have not been big supporters of Obamacare. Now, a large group of doctors is calling for the elimination of the Affordable Care Act and the creation of a new publicly financed, single-payer national health program in its place to cover all Americans.

In a huge break with the private insurance model of financing healthcare, 2,231 physicians called for replacing Obamacare with a “Medicare-for-all” system and implementing changes in federal laws to allow officials to negotiate lower prices for drugs, medical services, and other costs.

The notion of single-payer health reform has been hotly debated in the presidential primaries. Sen. Bernie Sanders has endorsed such an idea, which would cost up to $18 trillion, by some estimates.

But the idea has been criticized by Hillary Clinton (who supports Obamacare) and Donald Trump who has proposed replacing the law with a new “free-market” program that would give federal officials the power to negotiate better deals with doctors, healthcare facilities, and drug companies.

The new physicians' proposal, which they said is strictly nonpartisan, was drafted by a blue-ribbon panel of 39 leading physicians. It was detailed in an editorial titled "Moving Forward from the Affordable Care Act to a Single-Payer System" published in the American Journal of Public Health. It has signers from 48 states and the District of Columbia.

"Our nation is at a crossroads," said Dr. Adam Gaffney, a Boston-based pulmonary disease and critical care specialist, lead author of the editorial and co-chair of the group that produced the proposal. "Despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act six years ago, 30 million Americans remain uninsured, an even greater number are underinsured, financial barriers to care like co-pays and deductibles are rising, bureaucracy is growing, provider networks are narrowing, and medical costs are continuing to climb.

"Caring relationships are increasingly taking a back seat to the financial prerogatives of insurance firms, corporate providers, and Big Pharma," Gaffney said. "Our patients are suffering and our profession is being degraded and disfigured by these mercenary interests."

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor of public health at the City University of New York's Hunter College and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, said "lives are literally at stake" in the continuing debate over Obamacare.

"We can continue down this harmful path — or even worse, take an alternative, 'free-market' route that would compound our problems — or we can embrace the long-overdue remedy that we know will work: The creation of a publicly financed, nonprofit, single-payer system that covers everybody. Today we're saying we must quickly make that shift. Lives are literally at stake."

Dr. Marcia Angell, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, said: "We can no longer afford to waste the vast resources we do on the administrative costs, executive salaries, and profiteering of the private insurance system. We get too little for our money. It's time to put those resources into real health care for everyone."

Under the national health program (NHP) outlined by the physicians:

•    Patients could go to any doctor and hospital they like. Most hospitals and clinics would remain privately owned and operated, receiving a budget from the NHP to cover all costs. Physicians could continue to practice on a fee-for-service basis, or receive salaries from group practices, hospitals or clinics.
•    The program would be paid for by combining current sources of government health spending into a single fund with modest new taxes that would be offset by reductions in premiums and out-of-pocket spending. Co-pays and deductibles would be eliminated.
•    The single-payer program would save about $500 billion annually by eliminating high overhead and profits of insurance firms, and massive paperwork requirements.
•    Administrative savings would offset the costs of covering the uninsured and offering all Americans full coverage of prescription drugs, dental care, and long-term care.
•    Federal officials would be authorized to negotiate lower prices for medications and other medical supplies, yielding additional savings and reining in costs.

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A large group of doctors is calling for the elimination of the Affordable Care Act and the creation of a new publicly financed, single-payer national health program in its place to cover all Americans.
single, payer, obamacare, alternative, doctors
Thursday, 05 May 2016 03:33 PM
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