News Release

“Covering the Uninsured”: Remedy or Placebo?

In recent days, a coalition of 13 groups has begun a $10 million ad campaign, “Covering the Uninsured.” The coalition released data showing that 2001 witnessed the largest one-year increase in the number of uninsured Americans in nearly a decade. Participants include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, AARP, the Business Roundtable, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, Health Insurance Association of America, American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The following analysts are available for interviews on this initiative and reasons for the increase in uninsured numbers:

DON McCANNE, M.D.
President of Physicians for a National Health Program, Dr. McCanne said today: “It’s certainly true that there are more uninsured, but this nice-sounding initiative is actually another step backwards. The preliminary findings of the California Health Care Options Project reveal that single payer models can assure comprehensive health care for everyone while reducing overall health care costs, yet the parties involved in this latest process have already rejected single payer reform before the discussions begin. These groups will continue to look at various solutions that the California study indicates will only increase healthcare costs while perpetuating flawed health policies. The glossary on the coalition’s website [www.coveringtheuninsured.org/glossary] is revealing in that it includes terms such as medical savings accounts, catastrophic health insurance, purchasing pools, tax credits, refundable tax credits, group insurance, flexible spending accounts, cafeteria plan, FEHBP, HMO, PPO, managed care, and other concepts that the various factions continue to debate. However, the term ‘single payer’ is conspicuously absent. It should not just be in the glossary, it should be on the negotiating tables. A single payer system would replace the inefficient and fragmented model of health plans with a single universal health insurance program while continuing to utilize our existing private and public healthcare delivery system. It would allow individuals to choose their own doctors.”
More Information

JOHN HESS
A former reporter for the New York Times who specializes in issues of aging, Hess said today: “One of the diseases of our system is that healthcare is linked to employment. There’s a deep demand for something to be done, including among businessmen. Employers want to cut benefits to cut costs, and unions are losing out on healthcare when contracts come up. Hospitals have to charge more to the insured to cover the treatment they have to give to the uninsured. But none of these groups is willing to back a universal system which would solve the underlying problem. The AARP doesn’t want to offend anyone, and they themselves sell insurance. They pretend to represent old people, but they too never came out for universal care. Organized labor never, as a whole, backed universal health coverage partly because they themselves have their welfare funds — pension funds and medical welfare funds which are jointly run by businesses and unions.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167