FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 23, 2020
Contact: Clare Fauke, PNHP Communications Specialist, email@example.com
The Vermont Medical Society (VMS) overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution supporting a single-payer national health program, also known as Medicare for All, at its annual meeting on Saturday, Nov. 7. The VMS, which represents 2,400 Vermont physicians and physician assistants, is only the second state medical society in the U.S. after Hawaii to formally endorse a national single-payer health care program.
The historic vote by VMS follows a year of rapid movement among physicians and other health professionals towards single-payer reform. In January 2020, the 159,000-member American College of Physicians announced its endorsement of Medicare for All, along with a “universal public choice” reform model. In August, the 3,300-member Society of General Internal Medicine endorsed a similar resolution. Meanwhile, more than 50 municipalities have passed resolutions endorsing Medicare for All, including major cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Cook County, which includes Chicago. These resolutions reflect growing public support for a national health program: Last week, a Fox News election exit poll found that 72% of voters now favor Medicare for All reform.
The VMS resolution was introduced by Dr. Jane Katz Field, a pediatrician and vice president of the Vermont chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (VTPNHP). “The need for universal single-payer health care has never been more urgent,” said Dr. Katz Field. “Thirty million Americans were already uninsured before the COVID-19 pandemic, and millions more continue to lose coverage as they lose their jobs. Today the Vermont Medical Society recognizes the need to move away from a broken health system that ties health care to employment, and towards a system of equitable and universal coverage.”
Dr. Katz Field added that the VMS also endorsed a second resolution reaffirming the group’s support “for universal access to comprehensive, affordable, high quality health care, centered on increased investment in primary care, reduced administrative burden and public health interventions that address the social determinants of health.” According to the resolution, any national health system would need to provide equitable access, minimal cost sharing, and fair reimbursement to practitioners.
Aside from funding the program through a publicly financed system, VMS developed a list of “core criteria” that a national health program would have to meet:
- Affordability, with no cost sharing for patients;
- Universal, equitable coverage for all U.S. residents;
- Comprehensive and high quality coverage for all medically necessary services;
- Fair reimbursement of physicians and other clinicians, particularly those in primary care;
- Collective participation by physicians and other practitioners in negotiating rates and policies;
- Global operating budgets for hospitals (similar to the way fire departments are funded);
- Elimination of for-profit health insurance companies in order to reduce administrative costs and burdens on clinicians.
The VMS’ endorsement comes at a pivotal time for health care reform in Vermont and nationally. Both of Vermont’s U.S. senators (Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy) support Medicare for All legislation in the Senate. Vermont’s U.S. representative, Peter Welch, is a sponsor of Medicare for All legislation in the House. Many single-payer advocates are also asking their members of Congress to pass emergency coverage for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Physicians for a National Health Program is a nonprofit research and education organization whose more than 23,000 members support single-payer Medicare for All reform.