Physician's Group Promotes Single Payer in Houston

The health care debate in Washington centers on reforming insurance and whether or not a public option should be part of the plan. But as Rod Rice reports one national group of heath care professionals says the best solution is a Medicare-for-all system.

Dr. Oliver Fein is President of Physicians for a National Health Program. He says even the most liberal health reform proposal in Congress will leave as many as 17-million people uninsured. He says Medicare-for-all would cover everyone.

"The notion behind it is you have automatic enrollment in the program, just the way, frankly, somebody who turns 65 in this country is automatically enrolled in Medicare."

He says administration costs of Medicare are about 3% compared to 20-to-30 percent for health insurance, a savings that the Congressional Budget Office says would grant access to everyone at costs we are currently paying.

Single payer critics say Medicare will go bankrupt by 2019. Dr. Fein says it's an old charge that's never been true.

"The Medicare program was going to go bankrupt in two years back in 1970. It was going to go bankrupt in five years, you know, in 1980."

He says it's in better shape now than it's ever been in even though Medicare taxes haven't increased since 1986.  Dr. Fein also says Medicare-for all offers the most options because a patient would not be limited to the doctors and hospitals in an insurance company's plan.

As too the chance of this kind of plan being approved in Washington.

"This year, given where things are at, I would say it' not very likely."

Dr. Fein is in Houston speaking to health care professionals.

Rod Rice, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...