national health program

Home » national health program

Mass. healthcare law was a band-aid, not a cure

This is exactly what I have been saying about Romneycare. We have to do better.

From Physicians for a National Health Program:

While the Massachusetts health care reform in 2006 reduced the number of people who are uninsured in the state by about half, it did so at a high price and is unsustainable over the long haul because of skyrocketing costs, a group of Boston-area physicians and researchers say in a new report released today. The results do not augur well for the similarly structured Affordable Care Act, they say.

The report, titled “The Massachusetts Model of Health Reform in Practice,” presents data showing how the Massachusetts law has resulted in a surge in the sale of skimpy, inadequate insurance policies with high deductibles, along with a sharp rise in health care premiums for individuals and small businesses.

The authors also document how the law has created a financial crisis for the state’s safety-net hospitals and community health centers by cutting their public funding and redirecting the money to subsidize the purchase of private insurance policies.

The financial burden of the reform has fallen disproportionately on lower-middle-class families, they say. Meanwhile, the number of uninsured is once again on the rise.

Those are just some of the findings in a new, exhaustively documented report released today by Mass-Care and the Massachusetts chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. The report, which is extensively illustrated with tables and graphs, draws on hundreds of sources, including academic studies, government statistics and surveys, in the most comprehensive compilation of its kind.

Other findings include the following:

  • The use of high-deductible health plans more than tripled for residents with private insurance
  • Good health insurance coverage at small businesses all but disappeared after the reform
  • Most of the gains in the number of insured represented a shift of patients from the state’s former Free Care Pool to costlier private insurance programs, where the patients sometimes face new co-payments and premiums that impede their access to care
  • The reform did not reverse the growing use of the state’s emergency departments
  • The rate of personal bankruptcies linked to medical debt has not significantly decreased

Benjamin Day, executive director of Mass-Care and the study’s lead author, said, “Based on what we’ve seen in Massachusetts, and given the similarities between our state law and the new federal law, it’s reasonable to expect a similar course for the Affordable Care Act: a significant initial expansion of insurance coverage and a moderate improvement in access to care.

“However, by not addressing any of the underlying problems of the health care system – its uncontrollable costs, high levels of inequality, and high administrative costs associated with having multiple private insurers – we will see a worsening cost crisis for the rest of the population and a failing safety net for the most vulnerable populations,” Day said.

The report finds that small businesses were hit particularly hard by health reform. Quality coverage for small business employees all but disappeared over a few short years after reform – while the share of all insurance plans with high deductibles tripled – and health care premiums for small employers rose more rapidly after the reform than in other states (7 percent faster for individuals and 14 percent faster for families).

Dr. Rachel Nardin, chief of neurology at Cambridge Hospital, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the study, said, “The Massachusetts reform built on a complex blend of public and private insurers, adding to the administrative complexity and cost of the system. To achieve cost-effective, high-quality and truly universal care, we need a single-payer system.”

Nardin’s views echo those of other Massachusetts doctors. The Massachusetts Medical Society’s newly released 2011 survey of physician attitudes toward health reform showed 41 percent of the respondents would select a single-payer system as their first choice for national reform, versus 17 percent who would prefer the Affordable Care Act model. Support for single-payer reform rose 7 percentage points in the year since the last survey.

By |2011-10-25T14:14:58-04:00October 25th, 2011|Healthcare|Comments Off on Mass. healthcare law was a band-aid, not a cure

Over 4.3 million American were added to the list of uninsured last year

This is from Physicians for a National Health Program.

Official estimates by the Census Bureau showing a dramatic spike of 4.3 million in the number of Americans without health insurance in 2009 – to a record 50.7 million – underscore the urgency of going beyond the Obama administration’s new health law and swiftly implementing a single-payer, improved Medicare-for-all program, according to Physicians for a National Health Program, a 17,000-member physician group.

The Census Bureau reported that 16.7 percent of the population lacked health insurance coverage in 2009, up from 15.4 percent in 2008, when 46.3 million were uninsured.

Lack of health insurance is known to have deadly consequences. Last year researchers at Harvard Medical School showed that 45,000 deaths annually can be linked to lack of coverage.

“Tragically, we know that the new figures of uninsured mean a preventable annual death toll of about 51,000 people – that’s about one death every 11 minutes,” said Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of PNHP. Young is a Chicago-based retired physician whose private medical practice once counted President Obama among its patients.

Young said that even if the administration’s new health law works as planned, the Congressional Budget Office has projected about 50 million people will be uninsured for the next three years and about 23 million people will remain uninsured in 2019.

“Today’s report suggests those projections are likely too low,” he said.

The jump of 4.3 million uninsured is the largest one-year increase on record and would have been much higher – over 10 million – had there not been a huge expansion of public coverage, primarily Medicaid, to an additional 5.8 million people.

The rise in the number of uninsured was almost entirely due to a sharp decline in the number of people with employer-based coverage by 6.6 million. In 2009, 55.8 percent of the population had such coverage, having declined for the ninth consecutive year from 64.2 percent in 2000.

The record-breaking number of uninsured – exceeding 50 million for the first time since the Census Bureau started keeping records – includes 7.5 million children.

The biggest jumps in the percentage of uninsured were in Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Delaware, North Carolina and Florida. In terms of absolute numbers, the biggest increases were in California, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Alabama, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Massachusetts, 295,000 people remain uninsured despite that state’s 2006 reform. (See link below for historical tables of the uninsured by state.)

“The only way to solve this problem is to insure everyone,” Young said. “And the only way to insure everyone at a reasonable cost is to enact single-payer national health insurance, an improved Medicare for all. Single payer would streamline bureaucracy, saving $400 billion a year on administrative overhead, enough to pay for all the uninsured and to upgrade everyone else’s coverage.”

Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, a PNHP board member and chief of general internal medicine at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, noted that the Census Bureau was once again silent on the pervasive problem of “underinsurance.”

“Not having health insurance, or having poor quality insurance that doesn’t protect you from financial hardship in the face of medical need, is a source of mounting stress and poor medical outcomes for people across our country,” Carrasquillo said. New research has found that about 14.1 million children and 25 million non-elderly adults were underinsured in 2007, a figure that is likely much higher today.

“The government subsidies under the new health law will not be sufficient to provide quality and affordable coverage to the vast majority of Americans,” he said. “Tens of millions will remain uninsured, underinsured and without access to care. We need more fundamental reform to a single-payer national health insurance program.”

State-by-state data on the uninsured from 2006-2009 can be found here:

Physicians for a National Health Program ( is an organization of more than 17,000 doctors who support single-payer national health insurance. To speak with a physician/spokesperson in your area, visit or call (312) 782-6006.

By |2010-09-18T07:00:48-04:00September 18th, 2010|Healthcare|Comments Off on Over 4.3 million American were added to the list of uninsured last year

This Senate compromise is beginning to smell

doctor patient 2The more I read on this compromise, the less I like it. It is like that stuff I used to get at the fair – cotton candy. It looks interesting. It tastes nice, but in the end it is mostly nothing but air.

From FDL:

I contacted Dr. Ida Hellander, Executive Director of Physicians for a National Health Program, to get her feedback on whether or not PNHP thought lowering the Medicare age to 55 was a good idea. I respect Ida and the PNHP folks a lot, and wanted to see what they thought.

Here is the PNHP Statement:

Lowering the eligibility age for Medicare to 55 only works if it is mandatory. Otherwise it becomes the place where all the sickest patients get dumped. That might be okay for the sick people since Medicare is often better and more secure than private coverage, but it would drive total health care costs (and premiums) up, not down.

I know Anthony Weiner is saying that lowering the eligibility “would perhaps get us on the path to a single payer model.” That would be the same Anthony Weiner who pulled his single payer amendment when asked by Leadership to do so, while Bart Stupak got waived through.

We don’t know what the restrictions on access to Medicare will be, so I question why anyone is out there promoting a pig in a poke.

By |2009-12-10T10:22:29-04:00December 10th, 2009|Healthcare|Comments Off on This Senate compromise is beginning to smell
Go to Top