Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Use H.R. 676 to unify the reform movement

Physicians for a National Health Program
February 4, 2015

Doctors group hails reintroduction of Medicare-for-all bill

Single-payer health program would cover all 42 million uninsured,
upgrade everyone's benefits and save $400 billion annually on
bureaucracy, physicians say

A national physicians group today hailed the reintroduction of a federal
bill that would upgrade the Medicare program and swiftly expand it to
cover the entire population.

The "Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act," H.R. 676, introduced
last night by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., with 44 other House
members, would replace today's welter of private health insurance
companies with a single, streamlined public agency that would pay all
medical claims, much like Medicare works for seniors today.

Proponents say a Medicare-for-all system, also known as a single-payer
system, would vastly simplify how the nation pays for care, improve
patient health, restore free choice of physician, eliminate copays and
deductibles, and yield substantial savings for individuals, families and
the national economy.

"The global evidence is very clear: single-payer financing systems are
the most equitable and cost-effective way to assure that everyone,
without exception, gets high-quality care," said Dr. Robert Zarr,
president of Physicians for a National Health Program, a nonprofit
research and educational group of 19,000 doctors nationwide.

"Medicare is a good model to build on, and what better way to observe
Medicare's 50th anniversary year than to improve and extend the program
and its benefits to people of all ages?"

Zarr, a Washington, D.C.-based pediatrician, continued: "An expanded and
improved Medicare-for-All program would assure truly universal coverage,
cover all necessary services, and knock down the growing financial
barriers to care – high premiums, co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance –
that our nation's patients and their families are increasingly running
up against, often with calamitous results.

"Such a plan would save over $400 billion a year currently wasted on
private-insurance-related bureaucracy, paperwork and marketing. That's
enough money to provide first-dollar coverage for everyone in the
country – without increasing U.S. health spending by a single penny.


114th Congress

H.R.676 - To provide for comprehensive health insurance coverage for all
United States residents, improved health care delivery, and for other

Introduced: 02/03/2015

Sponsor: Rep. Conyers, John, Jr. [D-MI-13] (Introduced 02/03/2015)

Cosponsors: 44

Committees: House - Energy and Commerce; Natural Resources; Ways and Means

Latest Action: 02/03/2015 Referred to the Committee on Energy and
Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, and
Natural Resources, for a period to be subsequently determined by the
Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall
within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.


Comment by Don McCanne

Last night, Rep. John Conyers reintroduced in the 114th Congress H.R.
676, his single payer bill based on an expanded and improved Medicare
that would cover everyone. Although the implementation of the Affordable
Care Act has diverted attention from this model of reform that actually
would provide affordable care for everyone, nevertheless, its
reintroduction provides us with actual legislation that we can use in
our advocacy for a more efficient and effective health care program for
the nation.

Those who are attempting to establish state-level single payer systems
will find this legislation to be essential since it addresses the
federal barriers that prevent states from establishing a bona fide
single payer system. Vermont's experience showed us that they had to
abandon the single payer concept early on because of these barriers,
though they continue to try to move forward with incremental measures
that can never lead to single payer, that is without enabling federal

H.R. 676 should be used by all supporters of health care justice as an
advocacy piece to further educate the public at large on the clear moral
imperative of the single payer model. That includes those working on
state single payer systems and those busy helping to implement the
Affordable Care Act. No matter how busy you are, you still need to use
every opportunity to advocate for a system that takes care of the health
care needs of the entire nation. The Affordable Care Act does not do that.

H.R. 676 has been posted to the website (link above), and
within the next few days, the entire text of the bill will be added.
Right now you can see the list of the 44 cosponsors and then use that
list to encourage other members of Congress to become cosponsors as
well. The Republicans concur that the Affordable Care Act needs to be
replaced with a program that actually is affordable and portable. A
minority of Republican and Independent voters understand that an
improved Medicare for everyone would be an ideal solution. As we craft
our messages, we must keep Republicans and Independents in mind. We care
about their health as well.

At any rate, make H.R. 676 the central piece of your advocacy for health
care justice for all. The nation's health depends on it.

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