Over 5,000 US physicians have signed an Open Letter calling on the Presidential candidates and Congress to "stand up for the health of the American people and implement a non-profit, single payer national health insurance system." The letter is being circulated by Physicians for a National Health Program, a single-payer advocacy group. Excerpts from the appeal will be published in full-page advertisements in the Oct. 13th editions of The New Yorker and The Nation magazines.
What is radical is not the content of the letter. It reviews that the Republican strategy of using tax incentives to help people buy health insurance on the private market will leave more Americans without adequate insurance and the Democratic strategy of mandates and incremental expansion of public programs has repeatedly failed on the state level. It reminds our political leaders that a single payer health care reform could realize administrative savings of more than $300 billion annually - enough to cover the uninsured and to eliminate co-payments and deductibles for all Americans.
What is radical is the fact that so many physicians, traditionally a conservative group, are coming out in public support of single payer health care.
The strong physician support for this letter, with signers including some of the most prominent names in American medicine, reflects physicians' growing realization that continued reliance on the private insurance industry is bad for both patients and doctors. The letter's release follows a survey in the Annals of Internal Medicine this spring that shows 59 percent of U.S. physicians support national health insurance, a jump of 10 percentage points from five years ago.
Doctors are trained to make a diagnosis and prescribe the most effective treatment. This letter sends a strong message to our political leaders that the most effective treatment for what ails our health care system is single payer national health insurance.Dr. Rachel Nardin
Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
This program aired on October 6, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.