News Release

Doctors Call for National Health Insurance

Today an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (embargoed for 3 p.m. ET), backed by more than 7,000 physicians, proposes national health insurance. A news conference on the proposal, including two former Surgeon Generals, was set to take place today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., at 10 a.m.

Dr. STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, [via Kimberly Soenen]
A lead author of the proposal being presented today, Woolhandler is a primary care doctor practicing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She said today: “We are already spending enough to provide every American with superb medical care — $5,775 per person this year…. But we don’t get what we pay for. More than 41 million Americans are uninsured. Millions more are under-insured — they have coverage but still can’t afford vital care and medications, or they can’t get their HMO to pay for the care they need. Meanwhile we waste a fortune on useless medical paperwork and corporate profiteering. Single payer national health insurance would save at least $200 billion annually on paperwork and administration, enough to cover all of the uninsured and to upgrade coverage for Medicare enrollees and others who are under-insured.”

Dr. QUENTIN YOUNG
National coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program, Young has chaired the Department of Medicine at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital. He convened the group of prominent physicians that drafted the proposal. Young said today: “The doctors’ article also critiques the health reform plans that have been offered by President Bush and the major Democratic presidential contenders. Proposals that would retain the role of private insurers — such as calls for tax-credits, Medicaid/CHIP expansions, and pushing more seniors into private HMOs — are prescriptions for failure. By perpetuating administrative waste, such proposals make universal coverage unaffordable.”
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Dr. LINDA PEENO
A physician in Louisville, Kentucky, Peeno worked as a medical reviewer for Humana. She became critical of medical companies denying people care and ultimately provided evidence for patients suing HMOs and testifying before Congress. Her story was dramatized in “Damaged Care,” a Showtime television movie. She warned today: “Managed care is taking on new and insidious forms. At every point along the way, costs are trimmed — resulting in worse care for the patients. You want to make sure that a single payer system is not being run by HMOs, like HMOs have gotten into Medicare.”

Dr. RUDOLPH MUELLER
Author of the book As Sick As It Gets: The Shocking Reality of America’s Healthcare, A Diagnosis and Treatment Plan, Mueller said: “Not only do thousands and thousands of Americans die as a result of lack of healthcare, but inadequate insurance also costs more, since people don’t treat simple problems that become much more costly when they finally do see a doctor.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167