Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Doctors, Health Professionals Tell Congress: We Want Single Payer Healthcare

HuffPo reports:

At a long-awaited House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, health care professionals made it clear that they believe a single-payer system to be the best and perhaps only workable option for health care reform.

"Single-payer is the only reform that can control health care costs," said Walter Tsou, a University of Pennsylvania professor and an adviser to Physicians for a National Health Program. The last 50 years of government policy have protected insurance industry profits at the expense of taxpayers, doctors and hospitals, he said.

"Our most famous radical document begins with the words, 'We the People.' Not 'We the Insurers,'" he said. "It is time for our own generation's revolution."

For the most part, the panelists testifying before the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee agreed that spiraling costs are the greatest problem currently facing the medical community and its patients.

"Unless you can stop the insurance industry price gouging, we simply cannot make health care affordable, which means you either have price controls on the insurance industry or you take them out of the equation through single-payer reform," said Geri Jenkins, the co-president of the National Nurses Organizing Committee, which represents 86,000 registered nurses. "If we were to have a debate on containing costs, improving quality and universality, the single-payer advantage would be clear."

It was hard to get this hearing, and I hope there are many more like it. Even if one chooses the pragmatist camp and says single payer is impossible with the current composition of Congress, it's still pretty clear to me that the more discussion we have of single payer, the better the eventual healthcare bill will be.