Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Health Professionals Tell Congress They Want Single-Payer

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.

The discussion about a single-payer approach has been slow in coming because congressional leaders and the White House took a single-payer system off the table early in talks on health care reform. But there are signs that they regret that decision now.

"The reason our health care system is in such trouble is that it's set up to generate profits, not to provide care," Angell said, noting that private insurers spend 20 percent on marketing and administrative costs, compared with 3 percent for Medicare. She deemed the health-insurance sector "an industry that offers almost nothing of value."

Most of the panelists dismissed concerns of job losses at private insurers, arguing that employment would increase overall given the increased demand for medical professionals. Jenkins estimated total job creation at 2.6 million.

Andrews and full committee chair Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) are scheduled to discuss a single-payer system with the House Ways and Means Committee later Wednesday, and the subcommittee chair noted the presence of Ways and Means member Pete Stark at the hearing. "This is the beginning of the process, not the end," Andrews said.

Read More at Huffington Post

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