Looking again to Medicare as a single-payer model, consider how we emergency physicians interact with Medicare vs. private insurers. In 29 years of practice, I have never had to seek permission from a CMS official to admit a fee-for-service Medicare patient, have never had a consultant refuse a referral for a Medicare beneficiary, and have never had a pharmacist call me to say the prescription for my Medicare patient was not covered by the formulary. This is not true for some of my patients in managed care plans, including those who were sick enough to be admitted but had to be transferred because my hospital (which the patients self-selected) did not participate in their plan.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 31 – No 08 – August 2012
Single-payer is the only remaining option to simultaneously and synergistically expand access, control costs, preserve choice, and reduce disparities. There is simply no other efficient and constitutionally safe way to do this. Any other proposals are nothing more than tinkering around the edges and based on blind faith that some kind of future financial salvation will somehow save us from the impending health care meltdown. A single-payer, improved Medicare-for-All program would overhaul our dysfunctional health care financing system so that it works best for patients – and for physicians.
Dr. Mitchiner is an emergency physician in Ann Arbor, Mich., a former president of the Washtenaw County (Mich.) Medical Society, and a member of Physicians for a National Health Program.