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Doctors Group Says Replace Obamacare with Single-Payer Coverage

Feb. 25, 2017 (EIRNS)—"President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have vowed to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) ... with something great," wrote two physicians in the Annals of Medicine today, representing the Physicians for a National Healthcare Policy (PNHP) group. Steffie Woolhandler, MD and David Himmelstein, MD proposed single-payer national health insurance to replace Obamacare:

"Although Republicans’ proposals seem unlikely to achieve President Trump’s triple aim (more coverage, better benefits, and lower costs), single-payer reform could."

PNHP will hold national lobbying for single-payer on March 1. Woolhandler and Himmelstein give figures that a single nationally funded healthcare plan (sometimes called "Medicare for all," though PHNP does not use that term) would bring about more than $600 billion savings relative to the $3.2 trillion now annually spent on healthcare in the United States. These would come from reducing insurance company overhead (compared to Medicare’s overhead) and hospitals’/physicians’ administrative costs (ca. $500 billion); and from reducing outpatient drug costs (ca. $115 billion)—both estimates supported by recent experience in Canada and Scotland. The physicians assume, again with historical evidence backing them, that these savings would at least equal lower-income Americans’ increased utilization of medical care under national single-payer coverage for all.

"Our health care system remains deeply flawed," they write.

"Nine percent of persons in the United States are uninsured, deductibles are rising and networks narrowing, costs are again on the upswing, the pursuit of profit too often displaces medical goals, and physicians are increasingly demoralized. Reforms that move forward from the ACA are urgently needed and widely supported."

However, Woolhandler and Himmelstein make no proposal whatsoever about the funding of a single-payer national program.

But now that Obamacare is becoming unworkable even on its own terms, the PNHP proposal to replace it with single-payer national healthcare is a move in the right direction. House Republicans’ plans to "repeal and replace" Obamacare are stalling in confusion, and do not have President Trump’s support, particularly in their misguided attempts to further cut or even "replace" Medicare.

A Medicare payroll tax increase no larger than what employers and employees now pay for employer-provided insurance, would appear sufficient to cover "Medicare for all" healthcare. But that can only be assured in a growing economy with more productive employment and productivity, meaning the actions of Lyndon LaRouche’s "Four Laws" provide the basis for it.