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Congress Must Make Single-Payer System Priority in Health Care Reform Legislation

Sept. 2, 2009

Congress Must Make Single-Payer System Priority in Health Care Reform Legislation

Statement of Sidney Wolfe, M.D., Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group

Public Citizen is pleased that single-payer legislation that would provide health care for all Americans is on the verge of taking significant steps forward in Congress.

On Tuesday, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) asked the Congressional Budget Office to provide a cost estimate for H.R. 676, the single-payer bill. This move is a significant step in educating Congress and the public on how to truly fix our broken health care system. Not only will single-payer cover every American, it will save more than $350 billion a year because it will eliminate excessive administrative waste. The U.S. currently spends 31 percent of every private health insurance dollar on administration expenses.

Rep. Weiner has also announced that he will introduce H.R. 676 as an amendment during floor proceedings – marking the first time ever that single payer legislation will be voted on in Congress. The amendment seeks to replace the current health care bill, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act (AHCA, H.R. 3200), being given priority consideration in Congress. The AHCA is deeply inadequate because not much will change under its provisions: Health care would continue to be delivered piecemeal through insurance companies’ arbitrary decisions, many millions of Americans would be left uninsured and rising health care costs would still be uncontrolled. Under single-payer, costs would be controlled by using existing resources without the unnecessary administrative spending – which amounts to enough money to cover everyone.

Previously, single-payer had been “taken off the table” in the health care debate, but we are encouraged by Rep. Weiner’s attempts to give due consideration to the only real solution to our nation’s health care woes.