Trudy Lieberman notes that Obama's plan for healthcare reform doesn't include single-payer, without even briefly discussing what single-payer is.
Through single-payer healthcare coverage, or "Improved Medicare for All," all Americans would be covered automatically and at a potential savings to the national budget. Insurance companies currently spend 33 percent of our healthcare dollars on administration and profits. Under single-payer there would be only one insurer, the US government, which is currently spending about 5 percent of healthcare dollars on running Medicare. Eliminating the cost of running private insurance companies would save about $350 billion a year--more than enough to cover all those currently uninsured.
Single-payer would allow everyone to choose their own providers of care just as is done now under Medicare. Individuals would actually have more choice, as they would no longer be limited to a private insurance company's "panel" of providers.
Other savings would be attainable under single-payer because of its increased purchasing power as the only purchaser. This sole purchaser could reasonably negotiate hospital payments, physician's fees and payments for pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
The United States currently ranks thirty-seventh in quality of care when compared to other nations by the World Health Organization. There are many innovations in the provision of healthcare that are being introduced into the national debate on reform. Many of these have to do with providing better care yielding better outcomes. It would be much more feasible, efficient and cost-effective to implement or try these innovations under a single-payer system vs. working through hundreds of insurance companies.
While there may be a growing number of converts to single-payer, this is not at all apparent in what is coming out of Washington, DC. Momentum is building weekly, if not daily, toward real health reform, with the single-payer concept being consistently skirted or ignored. There appears to be a complete lack of political will to even mention single-payer, let alone include it in the debate. The collective wisdom of our leaders and representatives is that single-payer may be the best change and the right thing to do, but it is simply too much change for the electorate to handle. They did not ask the 47 million who have no insurance whether this was too big a step.
It is imperative that there be more immediate pressure on our members of Congress and other leaders to seriously consider a single-payer program along the lines of HR 676 or similar "Improved Medicare for All."
Ronald Lapp, MD
Paso Robles, CA
Nov 30 2008 - 6:38pm