In a comprehensive position paper, the nonprofit women's health organization argues that a single-payer model is best positioned to control costs and to reduce financial incentives that have led to both inadequate and excessive medical treatment.
Our Bodies Ourselves outlines exactly what women stand to gain from a single-payer system. The benefits are also the subject of an op-ed published today in the Boston Globe, co-written by Judy Norsigian, OBOS executive director, and Jennifer Potter, MD, director of the Women's Health Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and director of Women's Health at Fenway Health.
"The only national plan for healthcare reform that explicitly includes women's reproductive health services, including abortion, is one sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat," they write. "Other sponsors of single-payer plans are also amenable to including women's reproductive health services."
Lee is expected to re-introduce H.R. 3000, the United States Universal Health Service Act, this legislative session.
More than 10 benefits for women are discussed in detail in the position paper. Among them:
* Coverage is independent from employment.
* Coverage is independent from marriage.
* Single-payer system would encourage better care for chronic illnesses.
* Single-payer system would eliminate the need for Medicaid.
* Single-payer system would address the cost issues that send women into debt and bankruptcy.
Advocating for single payer is an uphill battle, but not a losing cause, said Norsigian, citing the current organizing efforts around single payer that are drawing congressional and media attention.
"Our efforts could also assist those now seeking to strengthen so-called public health insurance options designed to compete with private insurance companies," said Norsigian. "Though such government-sponsored health care plans are likely doomed to fail, they may ultimately be the only compromise solutions that could succeed in Congress."
The American Medical Association, which President Obama addressed on Monday, objects to a shift away from private insurance coverage, but Norsigian said that's to be expected.
"The AMA now represents fewer than 25 percent of all doctors, about 250,000. Although some doctors, mostly specialists, will have greater income under a private insurance system, most doctors view a single-payer solution as the best approach to health care reform. In fact, the second largest physician group, the American College of Physicians, which represents about 126,000 doctors, is on record in support of single payer," said Norsigian.
Polls indicate that a substantial majority of Americans would support a universal health insurance system based on Medicare. For example, a 2007 AP-Yahoo poll found 65 percent of respondents agreed with this statement: "The United States should adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers."
"That this option has been so categorically rejected or ignored by most legislators in Washington, when the majority of the public clearly supports this approach, is reflective of a weakened democratic process that should be great cause for concern," said Norsigian. "Single payer is the best option for women and the best option for this country."