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Bringing single-payer to the health care reform debate

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We’ve said it again and again: Congress cannot exclude single-payer advocates from the debate on health care reform. At meetings and rallies around the country, Americans have demanded to know why Congress has not considered single-payer, the most popular health reform proposal around. On June 11, Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program testified before the full Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions – the first time all year someone advancing single-payer had been allowed to participate in the Senate discussion of health care reform.

At the time, we said Dr. Flowers’ testimony wasn’t enough. A great deal of misinformation was still floating out there about single-payer that Congress had not yet addressed. But today, our own Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research group and our acting president, was invited to testify in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about the single-payer option.

Why do we so strongly believe in the single-payer option? Well, we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: replacing private insurance companies with a national health insurance program could save $400 billion a year in excessive administrative costs, provide coverage to the 45 million people in the United States who are uninsured, and help prevent the more than 18,000 deaths a year from a lack of health insurance. Why, then, is Congress so hesitant to consider the single-payer option? Politics, plain and simple. President Obama has said that if we could start our health care system from scratch, we would have a single-payer system, but right now it’s too disruptive.

We know that single-payer is the answer, even if it doesn’t align with our current health care system. If our president is such a fan of change, as he campaigned last year, why won’t he get behind the single-payer answer?

Flickr photo by seiuhealthcare775nw.