During the summer, Dick and I had an opportunity to sit down with a group of physicians, nurses, and healthcare activists to discuss the single-payer healthcare option. Like most Americans, we didn't have a clear understanding of the distinction between the public option and single-payer healthcare. We came away from that discussion believing that the only solution to the national healthcare crisis in this country is single-payer.
Margaret Flowers, who is a proponent and spokesperson for single-payer, allowed us to capture some of her words on video tape. If her name sounds familiar, you may remember that she was carted off to jail a few months ago for courageously speaking out at a "public" forum. She had the audacity to ask Sen. Max Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee if they would allow an advocate for a single-payer national health plan to have a seat at the table? For this, they called the police and had her arrested.
But this didn't stop her from organizing a grass roots response to what is being called the "health care debate". You see, Margaret Flowers is a pediatrician and she is the Physicians for a National Health Program Congressional Fellow. In this role, she champions the single-payer cause on Capital Hill, speaking before congressional representatives on behalf of physicians, nation-wide, who understand the need for single-payer.
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) is a non-profit research and education organization of 17,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals who support single-payer national health insurance. (Wikipedia has the number of PNHP membership at 14,000 but the PNHP website lists the membership at 17,000)
According to PNHP's website, the United States spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care. Yet we still have 45 million Americans without health coverage and millions more inadequately covered.
Research done by the PNHP reveals that the underlying cause for the crisis in healthcare coverage in the U.S. is private insurance. They have found that private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third (31 percent) of every health care dollar. PNHP's solution would be to streamline payments through a single nonprofit payer. According to PNHP, this would save more than $400 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.
Listen as Dr. Flowers talks about the difference between the public option and the single-payer option: