FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 12, 2020
Contact: Oliver Fein, M.D., Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., PNHP co-founder, email@example.com
Clare Fauke, PNHP communications specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) today applauded the Society of General Internal Medicine’s (SGIM) endorsement of Medicare-for-All reform. SGIM is an internal medical association representing more than 3,300 of the world’s leading academic general internists, including educators, researchers, and clinicians. It announced today that it has endorsed the policy position of the American College of Physicians (ACP), which recommended that “the United States transition to a system that achieves universal coverage with essential benefits and lower administrative costs …”
Dr. Oliver Fein, Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, pointed out that SGIM members in the organization’s Social Responsibility and Single-Payer Interest Groups have pushed for the organization to back single-payer reform for more than two decades. SGIM’s endorsement follows a year of rapid movement among physicians towards Medicare for All. In August 2019 — after months of pressure from single-payer supporters, including a march and rally at their annual meeting — the American Medical Association resigned from the “Partnership for America’s Health Care Future,” an industry front group formed to fight coverage expansions like Medicare for All and even lesser reforms like a public option. A few months later, the American College of Radiology, a medical society representing nearly 40,000 radiologists, oncologists, and nuclear medicine physicians, also cut ties with the “Partnership.”
In January 2020, the American College of Physicians (ACP) announced its endorsement of Medicare for All, along with a “universal public choice” reform model. The ACP represents 159,000 internists, making it the largest medical specialty society and second-largest physician group in the U.S. after the American Medical Association. Immediately following the ACP endorsement, more than 2,000 physicians signed an open letter “prescribing” Medicare for All, which ran as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times. Among the “prescribers” were prominent figures in American medicine, including Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine; Dr. Bernard Lown, developer of the defibrillator; Dr. Paul Farmer, infectious disease expert and founder of Partners in Health; and Dr. Mary Bassett, former New York City Health Commissioner.
Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, who in the late 1980s founded the nation’s leading single-payer physicians group, Physicians for a National Health Program, called the recent policy endorsements a “sea change for the medical profession,” noting that recent surveys found half of all doctors now favor national health insurance.
Dr. Fein, who is a member of SGIM as well as a board member and past-president of PNHP, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for Medicare for All even more urgent, as millions of Americans lose both their jobs and their health coverage. “Health care providers can no longer stand in silence while our health system puts profits ahead of patients and public health,” he said. “Single-payer Medicare for All is the only way to guarantee lifelong health coverage, eliminate financial barriers to care, and finally allow health care professionals to focus on what matters most — caring for patients.”
Statement from SGIM CEO Dr. Eric Bass
The Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) is pleased to endorse the American College of Physicians (ACP) policy paper titled “Envisioning a Better U.S. Health Care Reform for All: Coverage and Cost of Care.” We strongly agree with the following recommendations described in the paper:
- That “the United States transition to a system that achieves universal coverage with essential benefits and lower administrative costs . . .”; and
- That “two options could achieve the objectives: a single-payer financing approach or a publicly financed coverage option to be offered along with regulated private insurance.”
The ACP’s recommendations are consistent with SGIM’s vision for a just system of care in which all people can achieve optimal health. SGIM is strongly committed to advocating for universal health care coverage.
PNHP is a nonprofit research and education organization whose more than 23,000 members support single-payer Medicare for All reform.