Monday, February 29, 2016

qotd: Physicians & Medical Students: Sign the open letter on the truth about Medicare-for-All

The Huffington Post

February 28, 2016

Setting the Record Straight on Medicare for All: An Open Letter From 560
Physicians and Medical Students

By Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein

/The following statement has been signed by more than 560 physicians and
medical students. It was crafted by Andrea Christopher, M.D., Fellow in
General Internal Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Adam Gaffney, M.D.,
Fellow in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Massachusetts General
Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and the two of us, Drs. Steffie
Woolhandler and David U. Himmelstein. Other physicians and medical
students are invited to read and sign the statement here:
// <>

*Setting the Record Straight on Medicare for All: An Open Letter From
560 Physicians and Medical Students*

The renewed debate over the merits of single-payer health reform has
been marred by misleading claims that such reform is unnecessary and
unaffordable. We write to set the record straight.

Despite the advances of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care
financing system continues to inflict needless suffering on our
patients. Nearly 30 million Americans remain uninsured, and co-payments,
deductibles and insurers' narrow networks obstruct care for many more.
Insurers skim billions from premiums, and impose expensive and
time-consuming paperwork on doctors, nurses and hospitals.

Studies in the most trusted journals have quantified the bureaucratic
savings achievable through single payer reform. We devote31 percent of
medical spending to administration, vs. 16.7 percent in Canada
<> - a difference of
$350 billion annually. And single-payer systems in Canada, the UK and
Australia all use their bargaining clout to get discounts of 50 percent
<> from the
prices drug companies charge our patients. The potential savings on
bureaucracy and drugs are enough to cover the uninsured, and to upgrade
coverage for all Americans - a conclusion affirmed over decades by
multiple analysts <>,
including the Congressional Budget Office and the Government
Accountability Office.

Recent critics of Medicare for All warn of large increases in government
spending, but fail to note
that these would be fully offset by savings on private insurance
premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Their forecasts of massive surges in
doctor visits and hospital care conflicts with past experience of
coverage expansions. When 15 million Americans gained insurance under
the ACA in 2014, hospital admissions
<> didn't
budge <>. No
surge in hospital use
or doctor
occurred when Medicare and Medicaid were rolled out, or when Canada's
single-payer system started up
<>; doctors saw
sick and poor patients more often, but their healthy, wealthy patients a
bit less often.

Experience in many nations over many decades
<> provides
convincing evidence that single-payer reform is both medically necessary
and economically advisable.

/In addition to Drs. Gaffney, Himmelstein, Christopher and Woolhandler,
this statement has been signed by //more than 560 other/
<>/physicians and medical students./


Comment by Don McCanne

With the recent often inaccurate and ill-advised debate taking place in
the media over the financing of single payer it is imperative that the
record be set straight on the basic, irrefutable facts of single payer.
Physicians and medical students who are well informed on the true facts
should sign this open letter so that the nation understands clearly that
we can ensure that absolutely everyone has free choice of health care in
a system that is affordable for everyone, through an improved

Go to / <>/to sign the letter.

Colleagues should be encouraged to sign as well. Non-physicians are also
encouraged to endorse this letter by signing on to a companion list at
this same website.

In a separate release, Steffie Woolhandler explains the background that
makes this action an imperative:

"The recent attacks on single payer reform by some liberal economists
and politicians are mystifying. When I met with Hillary Clinton some
years ago she acknowledged that single payer would be the cheapest and
most efficient way to cover all Americans. Her only objection then was
that single payer wasn't politically feasible. Now she's charging that
the numbers don't add up. And economists who once projected large
savings from single payer, are now saying the opposite, without citing
any new data. They're playing political games at the expense of the

Again, please go immediately to /
<> /to sign the open letter.

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