Healthcare Professionals for Healthcare Reform

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A response to an “Annals dialogue” comment

Before the Annals published EMBRACE, it had an on-line “dialogue” which I joined. There were a couple of entries that I thought might be of interest that the Annals did not keep after publication. Here is one comment and my reply:

Umesh stated: I fear that the focus on ‘universal coverage’ and the consequent debate almost completely ingores another very important priniple that should be an integral part of the current health care reform effort: a 
single payer system. The massive chunk of health care dollars (abuot 30%) being siphoned off by for-profit intermediaries is almost enough to pay for all uninsured Americans (about 18%). Is the academic health care establihment so weakened that they cannot withstand the vested interests?  

My response:

There IS a “single payer” proposal that has been making the rounds for over 6 years and has been stuck in Congress for over 4 years. It is called H.R. 676 and it is based on the 2003 JAMA white paperby a group called PNHP. It has garnered a fair amount of support by healthcare professionals, especially academicians, who understand that a single payer model that preserves some autonomy for doctors will be more effective in improving the health of the country than the current system (even if the current system is expanded to achieve universal coverage).  


The problem is that HR 676 and all single payer plans are not POLITICALLY viable.  


On both sides of the aisle, from John McCain to Ted Kennedy, from John Boehner to Nancy Pelosi, all agree that “Single Payer” is dead in the water. The reasons are many, but the most important is that the insurance (and pharmaceutical) lobby is one of the strongest in Washington and getting stronger. It is very telling that when President Obama had his White House Health Care summit, only the representatives of PNHP were not invited (it took huge effort with a last minute phone-in campaign to get a representative to finally be admitted).  


That is why we at Healthcare Professionals for Healthcare Reform (HPfHR) developed the EMBRACEplan that is published on-line here. In it you will find that we have all the benefits of a single payer system (universal free coverage for all “basic” healthcare needs), while including a more transparent and portable private insurance system. We have also attempted to preserve all the benefits of the present system (such as access to all providers and easy availability of testing and therapy etc).  


This fight is not going to be won by the academic health establishment; it needs the input and support of all who are involved in healthcare. Please review the EMBRACE planand consider it versus the alternatives. There is a limited time to get involved and get our voices heard. If you want more information about HPfHR please visit our website: or email me:




April 7, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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