Major Doctors’ Group Calls for US to Assure Coverage for All

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The U.S. Capitol at sunrise on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Washington. A major doctors’ organization is calling for sweeping government action to guarantee coverage for all, reduce costs, and improve the basic well-being of Americans. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

WASHINGTON (AP) — With health care an election-year priority, a major doctors’ organization on Monday called for sweeping government action to guarantee coverage for all, reduce costs and improve the basic well-being of Americans.

Declaring that the U.S. health care system “is ill and needs a bold new prescription,” the American College of Physicians endorsed either of the two general approaches being debated by Democratic presidential candidates: a government-run “single-payer” system that would cover everyone, or a new “public option” government plan that would offer comprehensive coverage to compete with private insurance.

But the group’s president, Dr. Robert McLean, said his organization is not signing on to specific proposals, such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill or former Vice President Joe Biden’s combination of a public option, improvements to “Obamacare” and deputizing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.

Instead, he said, the group arrived at its recommendations by analyzing available evidence on what might best address the nation’s problems with high costs, gaps in insurance coverage, uneven quality, and mind-boggling complexity.

“We think there is a realistic chance that either of these two approaches could get us to a much, much better place,” said McLean. “It is not looking to be partisan, but I would say it is unavoidably political because policy is political.”

One problem Sanders’ plan poses for McLean’s group is its reliance on Medicare rates, which are well below what private insurance pays.

Although less well known than the American Medical Association, the group represents doctors who are critical in the health care system. Its 141,000 members in the U.S. are internal medicine specialists, focusing on adults from Medicare recipients to people in their working years covered by employer plans.

Doctors have traditionally been central in the nation’s health care debates. The AMA’s approval helped President Barack Obama pass the Affordable Care Act, and physicians’ groups were a core element of the coalition that blocked President Donald Trump’s efforts to repeal it.

About half of U.S. adults support a national Medicare for All plan, according to recent polling by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. A public option garners more support, with about two-thirds backing it. Both ideas face strong opposition from health insurance companies and other industry players.

McLean said his group is seeking comprehensive solutions that address coverage, cost, quality and complexity. Tackling one area and not the others won’t suffice, he said. He said Republican proposals to encourage patients to be better consumers of health care fall short because they don’t address coverage gaps or guarantee comprehensive benefits.

His organization’s framework was outlined in a series of papers published in its journal, Annals of Internal Medicine.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. So how do you cover high quality care with Medicare rates? Yes some don’t take full Medicare at all . And some want you to have an additional AARP plan . They also charge a copay and deductible .
    Also do you want to include long term care as well? Medicare doesn’t cover LTC. How about dental vision and mental health care? Do you now want the Medicaid goodies too?
    Should we also allow the current system where those on Medicaid can be fat wreck less smokers on weed too? Yet us tax payers foot the bill for irresponsible unhealthy life choices?

    • Taxpayers, directly and indirectly, are funding the most expensive healthcare system with some of the worst health outcomes of any developed nation.
      Currently, estimates are that we are using 1/3 of $3.65 *trillion* just on administrative costs for billing & insurance.
      Something must change.

      • Fake news we have the best health care outcomes. We are top of the line and second to none.

        There are two primary contributors to a lower life expectancy.
        1) we live in rural areas and very spread out so it shard to get care in those areas. vs other countries.
        2) Suicide and drugs . Go the CDC website and you’ll see mortality for cancer and cardiovascular decreased.

        These are the facts. Stop peddling lies

  2. Doctors are not economists. The doctors cited are promoting an evil stupid idea. Nothing in history has ever come close to maximizing all good (financial, social, health, etc.) for the most people and leaving the fewest number not thriving in every way; i.e. a truly free market with extremely tiny government. When it comes to healthcare costs, what was ignored by advocates of ObomberCare and that is still being ignored by these doctors is the following:
    if we can’t afford doctors, hospitals, & medicine now, how are we going to afford doctors, hospitals, & medicine, plus another huge government bureaucracy to run them?
    How is it that people do not understand this easy to understand concept?
    Also, how do they not see that if I have ten dollars to give ten people and do so, each gets a dollar. But, if I hire a govt. bureaucracy to distribute the ten dollars, each recipient will either only get a quarter, or it would cost me $17.50 to pay the govt. bureaucrats to give ten people a dollar each.
    Ignorance of these factual concepts & the extreme greed & vast corruption of the Left & RINOs are why we’re not only in a federal operating deficit of 22 trillion dollars over ten years, we owe hundreds of trillions to unfunded liabilities, like Social Security & Medicare.

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