BOOKMARK THIS PAGE for updates on our fight for Single Payer health care reform, PNHP-MN member articles from local and national publications, and social justice through health care reform.
(PNHP National news can also be found here.)
LATEST UPDATES & EVENTS
June 9, 2020
This study, authored by PNHP president Adam Gaffney, M.D., M.P.H. and PNHP co-founders Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H. and David Himmelstein, M.D. was published online in the International Journal of Health Services on June 9, 2020. Click HERE to read the study on the SAGE Journals website.
June 4, 2020
To the Editor:
As former Epidemic Intelligence Service officers at the C.D.C. and former members of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, we believe that this article, while raising valid points about the C.D.C.’s need for culture change, misses the “elephant in the living room” — the underfunding of public health in the United States.
The C.D.C. must be funded appropriately, charged with leading the Covid-19 response and also with addressing the health inequities unmasked by this global pandemic. Additionally, a single-payer health care system would make a significant dent in these inequities, both through direct provision of necessary health care without financial barriers and through availability of much richer data sets from which to analyze health trends and needs.
SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated the need for major changes in public health and health care services, but without financial support, these changes cannot be made. If the children of the United States are to have a healthy future, our budgets must reflect that priority.
(This Editorial was posted in response to the 06/03/2020 NYT article “The CDC Waited ‘Its Entire Existence for this Moment’. What Went Wrong?” found HERE.)
PNHP-MN Input to Health Care Financing Task Force
Updated Monday, February 1, 2016
In 2015, the Minnesota state legislature requested that Governor Dayton convene a task force on health care financing to advise the Governor and legislature on strategies that will increase access and improve the quality of health care for Minnesotans. PNHP-MN offered a list of principles, recommendations, and concerns to help guide the task force. The following documents were sent to task force members:
- Principles of Health Care Reform (August 25, 2015)
- Recommendations (August 25, 2015)
- Value-Based Purchasing Concerns (October 24, 2015)
- Evidence that ACOs Don’t Cut Costs (November 24, 2015)
- New York Times Article Challenges ACO Proponents (December 18, 2015)
- A final report summary was submitted by the task force on January 21, 2016. We have responded with an analysis of the final report. (February 1, 2016).
Posted on Thursday, July 30, 2015
By Augie Lindmark, MS2 | MinnPost
On July 30th, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson carried a considerable number of pens with him when he visited the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. The occasion for his visit was monumental: He was about to sign into law H.R. 6675 – known to many as the Medicare Bill.
Posted on Monday, July 27, 2015
By Inge De Becker, M.D. | MinnPost
You’ve saved an untold number of lives. And you cut elder poverty in half within 10 years of being implemented.
Posted on Thursday, July 23, 2015
By Dimitri Drenkonja, M.D. | St. Cloud Times
Medicare contends with the same skyrocketing health care costs as private insurers, but has to do so without annual premium increases. As such, Medicare by necessity has become an amazingly efficient payer. Whereas private insurers run overhead costs of 15-30%, Medicare spends just 2% on overhead, making it the most efficient way of paying for care – regardless of who is delivering the care.
“Not sustainable.” That was the way PreferredOne CEO Marcus Merz described the circumstances leading to his insurance company’s decision to withdraw from the MNsure exchange.
posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Dr. Dave Dvorak | Star Tribune
The closing of the Riverwood Centers represents yet another failure of a health care system based upon a dysfunctional patchwork of insurance coverage (“Center’s closing could strand mentally ill,” March 18). The combination of stalled public funding and diminishing payments from private insurance companies has brought about the demise of a crucial resource for thousands of Minnesotans who struggle with severe mental illness.
By Dave Dvorak, MD | Minnesota Medicine
We will adopt the streamlined efficiencies of a single-payer system to finally bring costs under control, achieve fair and comprehensive risk pooling, and most importantly, guarantee quality coverage for all citizens.
By Dave Dvorak, M.D. | Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune
It’s long past time to stop feeding this beast and adopt an efficient, fair, single-payer system that would slash administrative waste, get control of our health spending, and, most importantly, guarantee quality coverage for all citizens.
By Dave Mindeman | MinnPost
When it comes to health care, single payer advocates (like myself) are considered to be on the fringe — the “far” left. Too often, the second you say single payer, the word “socialist” enters the conversation or the obligatory eye roll shuts down rational talk.
By Ryan Gustafson | KEYC Channel 12 News (Mankato, Minn.)
Dr. Adamson says, “Cancer is a difficult enough diagnosis to deal with, but when you have the issue of how is this going to get paid for, whether I’ll be bankrupt seeking care, that is really more than you should have to handle when they’re dealing with a difficult diagnosis.
By Mark Liebow, M.D. | Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin
Medicare, a program that has transformed health care and Rochester, celebrates its 48th birthday this week.
By State Sen. John Marty (DFL) | Spring Grove (Minn.) Herald
Forty eight years ago this summer, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law, providing healthcare for millions of older Americans. As our state begins full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, it is appropriate to reflect on the progress we have made on giving healthcare access to Americans, and commit to delivering Medicare for All.
By Dr. Dimitri Drekonja | MinnPost.com
It would be helpful if the public, and certainly medical professionals, understood the basic ways in which we finance health care.
By Dave Dvorak, M.D., M.P.H. | Minnesota Medicine
As Minnesota’s physicians, health care leaders and legislators grapple with the complex changes brought by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many are concerned that even after the law is fully implemented, hundreds of thousands of people will remain uninsured while health care costs continue to spiral.
By Bonnie Blodgett | Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Dr. David Dvorak is an emergency room physician. He supports a single-payer system for Minnesota and wants to make one thing clear: “single payer” doesn’t mean socialized medicine.
By Jacob Wheeler | The Uptake (St. Paul, Minn.)
If Minnesota ever adopts a single-payer heath care system, the work of Dr. Elizabeth Frost will be remembered as one of the key reasons for its passage.
By Kip Sullivan | Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
So UnitedHealth Group has figured out a way to cut Medicare’s costs “without cutting services”? That is how the Star Tribune characterized the organization’s self-serving claims in a recent story (“UnitedHealth says Medicare can save big without big cuts,” Jan. 20).
By Andrea Parrott | Twin Cities Daily Planet
After daily witnessing situations in which patients suffered or had to make decisions detrimental to their health due to difficulties in accessing health care, Dr. Elizabeth Frost and Dr. Ann Settgast had enough. They felt they had to do something that would allow everyone to have health insurance and so, access to health care. The two decided to found the Minnesota chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP).
By Ann Settgast, M.D., and Elizabeth Frost, M.D. | PNHP Minnesota
“Above all other issues, Minnesotans have expressed concern about affordability of care, and they believe the best solution to this problem is a single-payer system.”
By the editors | Minnesota Physician, September 2012
The work of the Minnesota chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) will continue in earnest. While the ACA will be helpful for some patients who gain access to insurance coverage, the legislation will not fix the health care crisis facing our state and nation.
Minnesota Health Care News
The U.S. has much to learn from other wealthy democracies, all of which have truly universal health care systems, most at less than half the cost of ours. There is a constant search in American medicine for the “holy grail” of cost control.
By Ann Settgast, M.D. | Southside Pride (Minneapolis) The day the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was upheld by the Supreme Court was ironic for me as a physician. Two of my patients asked me to prescribe medication for uninsured family members: A mother asked me for an inhaler for her adult son with uncontrolled asthma, and another asked me if I could refill her husband’s blood pressure medications for a month or two until he is able to find another job following his lay off. He cannot see his doctor due to his uninsurance.
By Dave Dvorak, M.D. | Minnesota Medicine
“How much will this cost?” he asks. It’s the question at the heart of any business transaction: Is this new car, this plane ticket, this iPad worth the asking price? But the man sitting before me is not a customer in an automobile showroom or an electronics store. He is my patient in the emergency department, and he is weighing whether to undergo the chest CT scan I have just recommended.
By Elizabeth Frost, M.D. | The Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.), Letters
I think it is interesting that the Supreme Court has upheld the idea that the individual mandate as a tax is constitutional. What does this mean? First of all, it means that we as a nation have decided that health care is a “greater good” — that everybody deserves health care. Second, we have decided that everyone pays in to health care. We have already decided to do this in Medicare, but now we are extending the concept to everyone.
By Joshua Faucher | Post-Bulletin (Rochester, Minn.), Letters
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is anything but a complete solution to our health care crisis. The bill still will leave at least 26 million devoid of insurance coverage. Equally worrisome, it will force many into a relationship with private insurers for coverage that is too expensive and often incomplete. We must react by implementing the non-profit, single-payer insurance system our country needs and deserves.
Elizabeth Frost, MD | Southside Pride (Minneapolis)
I am a family practice physician and a supporter of single-payer health care for all. There are nearly 1000 doctors and providers in Minnesota that advocate for this kind of public financing of health care. I am not alone. As you know, single-payer has been popular in Minnesota for years. In fact, it has been endorsed by the DFL for over 20 years and is supported by Governor Mark Dayton.
By Ann Settgast, M.D. | The Star Tribune (Minn.)
The need for our hospitals to provide uncompensated care to uninsured and underinsured Minnesotans will continue to grow if we do not fundamentally change our system. Assuming the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, more than 250,000 Minnesotans will remain uninsured, while hundreds of thousands more will rely on skimpy insurance that does not properly protect them from serious financial strain if they fall ill.
By Sam Baker | The Hill
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is continuing to argue for a single-payer health care system, saying it would not raise the same constitutional questions that have dogged President Obama’s health care law.
By Amy Lange | Star Tribune (Minneapolis), April 2, 2012
Minnesota would not be alone among the states if it forged ahead to provide a universal and unified health system. Governors, legislatures and citizens groups are pushing similar reforms in Vermont, Montana, Oregon and Hawaii. And Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton favored a universal system for Minnesota in his 2010 campaign.
By Josh Moniz | The Journal (New Ulm, Minn.)
Physicians for a National Health Program-Minnesota hosted an informational presentation for business owners on single-payer health care Friday at the New Ulm Country Club.
By Rick Kvam, M.D. | Letters, Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin
Guided by evidence, not ideology, one finds that in health care, the unbridled free market returns a very poor value. We boast the most market-driven health care in the developed world, and, not coincidentally, far and away the most expensive. Our per capita costs are double those of other industrialized nations (in spite of 50 million uninsured!), but our outcomes (life expectancy, infant mortality, etc.) are nevertheless worse. Workers’ inability to switch jobs for fear of losing health care coverage (“job lock”) is a major drag on our economy.
By Mark Liebow, M.D. | Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin
Well, Vermont beat us to it. The people of Vermont decided correctly that the advances of the Affordable Care Act weren’t enough. They looked at Massachusetts and found that with that state’s plan, which serves as the model for the Affordable Care Act, costs continue to rise and the rate of medical bankruptcies didn’t go down.
By Elizabeth Frost, M.D. | Twin Cities Daily Planet
Medicare is an efficient, effective way of health care financing. It is what we all want for our parents and ourselves as we get older and heck — it probably is a good idea for the entire nation. If we had Medicare-For-All maybe it would be so popular that Michelle Bachmann would be forced to defend it, too.
By Ann Settgast, M.D. | Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Whether the debt ceiling is raised or not in the days ahead, Minnesotans and the nation have reason to celebrate this weekend. Saturday marked Medicare’s 46th birthday.
By Lisa Peterson-de la Cueva | Twin Cities Daily Planet
Senator John Marty contacted the TC Daily Planet after he read our June coverage of health care, specifically a Q&A with Senator Dave Durenberger on his support for federal health care legislation. Senator Marty let us know that he respectfully disagreed with Senator Durenberger’s view of solutions for our health care system. This is to be expected, since he’s the chief author of the Minnesota Health Plan, the only proposal for universal, single-payer coverage in Minnesota.
By Joe Kimball | MinnPost.com
The St. Paul City Council passed a resolution Wednesday supporting the Minnesota Health Plan, a proposal that’s floating around the Legislature (but not yet close to passing) for single-payer, universal health care in the state.
By DR. RALPH S. BOVARD | Star Tribune
As a physician, I agree that we must get health care costs down if we’re going to achieve universal coverage, but I strongly disagree that the only way to do it is to ration. There is another viable and proven option: a single-payer or regulated multipayer health care system, such as exists in every nation in the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development except the United States and Mexico.
By EDWARD P. EHLINGER, M.D. | Minneapolis Star Tribune
Insurance is a great mechanism that people can use to offset their risk of losing some material thing of great value like their house, boat, car or jewelry. It can also be used to protect a valuable personal occupational asset like a voice for an opera singer, a hand for a surgeon or a knee for a football player. And it can be useful in providing protection from a singular catastrophic event like a malpractice suit or the premature loss of life. But for something that is predictable, ongoing, needed by everyone, or necessary for the welfare of our community, an insurance model makes absolutely no sense. That’s why we don’t use an insurance model to provide police or fire services or to provide an education to our children. For these we use the tax model. Basic essential health care should also be in this category.
By JOHN M. BRYSON | Minneapolis Star-Tribune
The emotional debates over health care reform in the United States last fall and again this election season are puzzling to my wife and me. We are professors who were on sabbatical leave in London from August 2009 through August 2010, so we missed last year’s debates. While in the United Kingdom we were automatically covered by the National Health Service.
By Elizabeth Dunbar | Minnesota Public Radio
Dr. Elizabeth Frost, a family practice physician and a member of Physicians for a National Health Program, said the groups would like to see all Minnesotans covered by a plan paid for by state government.
By Nick Coleman | Minneapolis Star Tribune
After she was diagnosed with kidney cancer, my mother was given a prescription for a daily chemotherapy pill that has been shown to extend the lives of patients with that cancer. When I went to pick up the medicine, the pharmacist asked if I had received financial counseling. No, I said, wondering why we were talking finances, not health care. Just how much is this prescription?
By David Swanson | OpEdNews.com
California keeps passing bills for state single-payer healthcare, but Ahhhnold won’t sign em, and Jerry Brown who wants to be governor doesn’t seem to want it badly enough to make a commitment on healthcare. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is encouraged that their current governor has said he probably will sign a single-payer healthcare bill, and the legislature just might pass one. But Minnesota has an angle neither of these other states can claim: a serious candidate for governor who is the state’s leading advocate for single-payer.
By John Marty | MinnPost
Please, restore the hope that you raised in all of us, bring back the inspiration that made the American people so excited by your inauguration. I urge you to step back, reconsider, introduce a health care plan that is truly universal, and fight for it.
By Mike Rose | Austin (Minn.) Daily Herald
When the current health care debate began in earnest last year, one potential topic of discussion was largely left out — “single-payer” insurance.
By Ann Settgast, M.D., and Elizabeth Frost, M.D. | Minnesota Medicine
As physicians, we are troubled by the direction of federal health care reform. Whether via a public health insurance option or an insurance mandate, the proposals on the table build on the structure of our broken system—the most costly, fragmented, and bureaucratic in the world.
By Ann Settgast and Elizabeth Frost | Opinion | Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)
The health care reform debate is reaching a feverish pitch. As physicians, we are troubled by the direction the debate has taken. Whether via a public option or a mandate to purchase insurance, the proposals on the table aim to cover more, but not all Americans. They build on the structure of our broken system — one that ranks as the most costly, fragmented and bureaucratic in the world.
By Kathlyn Stone | TC Daily Planet
The American Medical Association has come out against President Obamaâ€™s â€œpublic optionâ€ for health care reform, but the AMA doesnâ€™t represent all physicians. Some physiciansâ€™ groups support the public option but others think it doesnâ€™t go far enough to fix changes in a badly broken system. Dr. Oliver Fein, president of the progressive Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), found a warm welcome in the Twin Cities last week. Fein was here to present PNHPâ€™s vision for a national single payer health program. PNHP has 16,000 members, including 300 in Minnesota.
BY KIP SULLIVAN | Southside Pride, Minneapolis
SF 118, the Minnesota Health Act, which would guarantee health insurance for all Minnesotans under a program called the Minnesota Health Plan, passed out of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee by a party-line vote of 7 to 3 on Feb. 10. The lopsided vote was a sign of the growing support for the single-payer approach. This is the first year since 1991, the year single-payer legislation was first introduced in the Minnesota Legislature, that a single-payer bill has cleared two committees in the Senate. The bill has never been heard in the House. It will get its first hearing in the House on Feb. 25.
By Robert Wolfington III | Marshall (Minn.) Independent
Dr. Ann Settgast, co-chairwoman of the Minnesota chapter of Physicians for A National Health Program, said a single-pay insurance program would provide care for all U.S. citizens, while at the same time save money compared to the current multi-payer system.
by Ann Settgast, MD | Twin Cities Daily Planet
The upcoming change in administration has brought optimism and hope to the American public. Now is the time to demand meaningful healthcare reform rather than a replay of past failures. As a physician, I know that offering a placebo in place of known effective treatment is unethical. Hence, while I applaud the good intentions of Senator Tom Daschle, the Healthcare for America Now (HCAN) coalition, and others, I advise against their proposals to extend a system that is fundamentally flawed. In these times of economic uncertainty and crisis, single payer is the only fiscally responsible option for reformâ€¦and it is the only solution that will actually work.
By Elizabeth Frost, MD | Pioneer Press | Letter to the Editor
As a family practice doctor who works with the uninsured in St. Paul, I have recently become involved in health care reform. I believe single-payer national health insurance is the only way to provide quality affordable care for all.
When you hear that the AMA is opposed to single payer reform, keep in mind that it represents only a minority of American physicians, and within their organization there is a diversity of opinion.
By By Joel M. Albers, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Breanna Peterson Lathrop, Kirk C. Allison, Ph.D., Charles N. Oberg, M.D., and James F. Hart, M.D. | Minnesota Medicine
Despite physicians’ vital role in health care, few studies have assessed their preferences regarding health care financing systems. We surveyed a random sample of licensed Minnesota physicians to determine their preferences regarding health care financing systems. Of 390 physicians, 64% favored a single-payer system, 25% HSAs, and 12% managed care.
Click here to read a selection of articles and blogposts.
Kip Sullivan, JD, is Minnesota’s local health policy expert, also recognized nationally for his expertise and substantial contributions to the health policy literature. Using the evidence he offers perspectives that are refreshing and unfortunately all too rare in today’s health policy climate. Kip Sullivan is an active member of Physicians for a National Health Program.