By Robertha Barnes, Chris Cai, Diana Chang, Ashley Duhon and Michael Zingman
Modern Healthcare, September 7, 2019
Last month, the American Medical Association announced its departure from the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future. While the AMA still does not support improved Medicare for All, this is an important step. Last year, the partnership spent $143 million lobbying against Medicare for All using decades-old scare tactics like the fear of “socialized medicine,” rising costs and loss of consumer choice.
As future doctors, we know the evidence doesn’t support this. Several studies, including by the libertarian Mercatus Center, show Medicare for All will expand coverage while reducing overall health spending. Over 200 economists agree that Medicare for All would save money for most Americans. Unlike commercial or employment-based insurance, the programwould provide all medically necessary care free at the point of service, including dental, vision, reproductive and long-term care. Finally, a Medicare for All system would not significantly increase hospital use or lower doctors’ incomes.
Why does the AMA oppose Medicare for All? Today the association represents fewer than 25% of physicians and clings to policies that elevate the interests of for-profit corporations and private hospitals over those of patients. The AMA has fought against national health insurance as far back as the 1950s when it opposed Medicare and Medicaid.
That is why Students for a National Health Program co-led a demonstration at the AMA’s annual meeting in June. Our demands were clear: Leave the anti-single payer partnership and end your misguided opposition to single-payer.
While we applaud the AMA for leaving the partnership, we believe this is not enough. If the AMA is truly in favor of healthcare justice, it must support improved Medicare for All.
Robertha Barnes, Chris Cai, Diana Chang, Ashley Duhon and Michael Zingman all are medical students and national board members of Students for a National Health Program.