Former Vice President Gore Discusses Single-Payer Health Care System Proposal
Former Vice President Al Gore, a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, Sunday discussed his proposal for a single-payer health care system on ABC's "This Week" (Stephanopoulos, "This Week," ABC, 12/8). Last month, Gore said that he has "reluctantly come to the conclusion" that a single-payer health care system would serve as the most effective proposal to provide universal health coverage in the United States, although he did not offer a detailed proposal. In the past, Gore has said that the United States could not afford such a system (California Healthline, 11/15). According to Gore, a single-payer health care system would help reduce health insurance premiums, the number of middle-income families that decide not to purchase health insurance as a result of cost, state budget deficits, the number of businesses that have to decide between reductions in health benefits or jobs and expenditures on "unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy." Gore said that he did not support a "comprehensive overhaul" of the nation's health care system in his 2000 election campaign because the "viability of building on an incremental approach was still very real." However, the "system is collapsing" today, he said. Gore cited the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program as a model for a single-payer health care system and said that the United States may not have to raise taxes to fund such a system. Gore said, "I think that the amount we're spending now is more than enough to cover an improved health care system that would have better benefits for more people at lower costs." Gore added that he would provide a "far more detailed" proposal for a single-payer health care system in January ("This Week," ABC, 12/8). Video excerpts of Gore's comments on health care are available in RealPlayer online.
WHYY's "Fresh Air," an NPR syndicated program, today will host a discussion of a single-payer health care system with Drs. Marcia Angell and Quentin Young of Physicians for a National Health Program and Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund and a member of an Institute of Medicine committee on health care improvement. Angell, a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Young, senior attending physician at Chicago-based Michael Reese Hospital and national coordinator of PNHP, support a government-funded single-payer health care system in which "choice of provider remains mostly private." Davis, who served as HHS deputy assistant secretary for health policy from 1977 to 1980, supports reforms in current federal programs, such as Medicare, as well as improvements in employer-based health insurance. Check local NPR listings for show times. The full program will be available in RealPlayer Audio after the broadcast online (Gross, "Fresh Air," WHYY, 12/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.