Posts Tagged ‘federal reform’

PNHP: New Census Figures on Uninsured Show Urgent Need for National Health Care

September 14th, 2011

Number of uninsured climbs to highest figure since passage of Medicare, Medicaid
50 million uninsured shows urgency of enacting single-payer Medicare for all: national doctors group

Official estimates by the Census Bureau showing an increase of about 1 million in the number of Americans without health insurance in 2010 – to a 45-year high of 49.9 million persons, or 16.3 percent of the population, under the bureau’s revised calculation method – underscore the urgency of going beyond the Obama administration’s federal health law and swiftly implementing a single-payer, improved Medicare-for-all program, spokespersons for Physicians for a National Health Program said today.

Employment-based coverage continued to decline. The bureau said 55.3 percent of Americans were covered by employment-based plans in 2010, down from 56.1 percent in 2009. It was the eleventh consecutive year of decline, from 64.2 percent in 2000.

Read the rest of the article here.

John Nichols on replacing the mandate with Medicare for All

September 7th, 2011

Can We Have Health Reform Without an Individual Mandate? Yes, It’s Called ‘Medicare for All’

By John Nichols
The Nation, August 13, 2011

The individual mandate was always a bad idea. Instead of recognizing that healthcare is a right, the members of Congress and the Obama administration who cobbled together the healthcare reform plan created a mandate that maintains the abuses and the expenses of for-profit insurance companies — and actually rewards those insurance companies with a guarantee of federal money.

Those who think that the for-profit (or even not-for-profit) insurance industry has to control any healthcare reform initiative have every right to be upset with the 11th Circuit’s ruling — which almost certainly will send the case of the Obama healthcare plan to the US Supreme Court.
But those of us who have no desire to perpetuate the insurance industry can and should recognize that the proper — and entirely constitutional — reform is an expansion of Medicare to cover all Americans.

While Medicare is exceptionally popular, polling shows that the individual mandate is not — according to recent surveys, roughly 60 percent of Americans oppose it.

It also passes constitutional muster.

As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich notes: “[No] federal judge has struck down Social Security or Medicare as being an unconstitutional requirement that Americans buy something. Social Security and Medicare aren’t broccoli or asparagus. They’re as American as hot dogs and apple pie.”

“So if the individual mandate to buy private health insurance gets struck down by the Supreme Court or killed off by Congress,” says Reich, “I’d recommend President Obama immediately propose what he should have proposed in the beginning — universal health care based on Medicare for all, financed by payroll taxes.”

The insurance companies would, of course, scream.

But let them complain.

Americans don’t need mandates. They need healthcare.

And they have every right to ask, as activists with Physicians for a National Health Program have, that Medicare be expanded to cover all Americans — affordably, efficiently, capably and constitutionally.


By Don McCanne, MD

Americans overwhelmingly support Medicare, yet an unequivocal majority oppose a government requirement to purchase private health insurance. Why should we have to wait until we’re 65 to have Medicare, while in the interim being required to buy something we don’t want? Let the Supreme Court rule that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and then maybe we can convince a newly elected Congress to pass the reform that we really need.

We are pleased that Washington correspondent John Nichols of The Nation has joined with Physicians for a National Health Program and the growing chorus of other enlightened voices who call for a vastly superior model of reform that actually would pass constitutional muster – an improved Medicare, expanded to include everyone.

Don McCanne, MD: The Commonwealth Fund compares twelve industrialized nations

August 23rd, 2011

The U.S. Health System in Perspective: A Comparison of Twelve Industrialized Nations

By David A. Squires
The Commonwealth Fund, July 2011

This analysis concentrated on 2010 OECD health data for Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

What is driving higher health care spending in the U.S.?

Spending on health care in the U.S. in 2008 far exceeded that seen in other countries. In both dollar figures and as a percentage of GDP, no country came within 70 percent of U.S. spending ($7,538 per capita, 16% GDP). This higher spending does not seem to simply reflect higher income.

There are many forces driving health care spending. An annual series of Commonwealth Fund-sponsored analyses of OECD health data dating back to 1999 has explored a number of potential factors, including: administrative complexity, the aging of the population, the practice of “defensive medicine” under threat of malpractice litigation, chronic disease burden, health care supply and utilization rates, access to care, resource allocation, and the use of technologically advanced equipment and procedures. These and other studies have found, contrary to often-cited explanations, the U.S. has a relatively young population, average or below-average rates of chronic conditions, and comparatively few doctor visits and hospitalizations compared with other industrialized countries. Instead, these studies suggest major reasons for higher spending include substantially higher prices and more fragmented care delivery that leads to duplication of resources and extensive use of poorly coordinated specialists.

A 2010 cross-national study conducted by The Commonwealth Fund ranked the U.S. sixth of seven countries in terms of quality, with average performance on effectiveness and patient-centeredness and low performance on safety and coordination.

These findings suggest that the U.S. health system is not delivering superior results despite being more expensive, indicating opportunities for cross-national learning to improve health system performance.

With chronic disease on the rise amidst an aging demographic and accounting for ever more health care spending, more effective treatment and management in primary care settings may have the potential to simultaneously improve patient care while preventing the unnecessary use of scarce and expensive resources.


By Don McCanne, MD

This Commonwealth Fund report confirms, once again, that we spend far more than other nations for health care while receiving only mediocrity from a fragmented system. There is much that we can do to improve quality and value, but it needs to begin with a rational system of financing health care.

We don’t have such a system now and will not have it under the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – a model of reform that is the most expensive and falls far short on goals of reform. We already have learned much from the other eleven nations discussed in this report, but we have failed to act on what we know. Clearly, a single payer national health program with reinforcement of our primary care infrastructure is the redirection that we need.

Re-posted with permission from

Don McCanne, MD: National Health Expenditures in 2011 and 2020

August 12th, 2011

National Health Spending Projections Through 2020: Economic Recovery And Reform Drive Faster Spending Growth

From the Office of the Actuary, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Health Affairs, July 28, 2011

National Health Expenditures, billions:
2011 – $2,708.4
2020 – $4,638.4

National Health Expenditures, per capita:
2011 – $8,648.5
2020 – $13,708.8

National Health Expenditures, as percent of GDP:
2011 – 17.7%
2020 – 19.8%


By Don McCanne, MD

This year we are spending $2.7 trillion on health care, or about $8,650 per person. What can we expect after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is fully implemented? In 2020, we will be spending over $4.6 trillion, or about $13,700 per person. As a percent of GDP, our health care spending will increase from the current 17.7 percent to almost 20 percent.

Is the Affordable Care Act really affordable? A single payer national health program would be effective in controlling costs, but, much more importantly, it would ensure that all of us – no exceptions – would receive the health care that we need. The Affordable Care Act will cost us more while leaving far too many broke and without health care.

We can still have the health care system that we need, but we’ll have to replace our dysfunctional representatives in Congress. Can we do that?

Re-posted with permission from