By Stephanie Goldberg
Crain’s Chicago Business, June 6, 2019
The physicians group is among associations that oppose a single-payer system, which would discontinue Medicaid and private health insurance—squeezing hospital profits and threatening the existence of many health insurers.
However, groups like Physicians for a National Health Program and National Nurses United say many health care providers actually support proposals to expand Medicare. They—along with other associations, health care workers and advocacy groups—will protest the AMA’s opposition of “Medicare for All” in Chicago on Saturday.
The grassroots coalition is calling on the AMA to drop its fight against “Medicare for All” and withdraw from the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, an industry coalition fighting proposals to expand Medicare. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is also a member.
In addition to opposing “Medicare for All,” the AMA fought the formation of the program in the 1960s. However, it supported the Affordable Care Act in 2009.
“The status quo for our patients is unacceptable, and policymakers should continue taking steps to improve coverage, affordability, and expand the safety net,” AMA President Dr. Barbara L. McAneny said in a statement. “AMA policy says patients and physicians should have a range of public and private coverage options and benefit from freedom of choice and competition, which can be achieved by building on our current system, with the goal of providing coverage to all Americans.”
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois echoes the sentiment, saying in a statement the company “believes that everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care in a system built on choice, competition and innovation. We will continue to advocate for policies that support that goal in a sustainable way.”
Verhoef said some single-payer critics believe physician autonomy would be lost under “Medicare for All,” while highly paid doctors and specialists may be concerned their income would decrease under such a system.
It comes down to equity, said Verhoef.
“We have an incredibly inequitable system right now because we have (nearly) 30 million people who are uninsured” and even more who are underinsured, Verhoef said. “They don’t get the care they deserve. (“Medicare for All”) is a way to level the playing the field and give everyone comprehensive health care.”
Talisa Hardin, a representative of National Nurses United and a registered nurse in the burn unit of University of Chicago Medical Center, said she supports a single-payer system because the current system is “not designed to support and promote health.”