American College of Physicians endorses 'Medicare for All', public option

January 21, 2020
by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter
The American College of Physicians (ACP) has thrown its support behind "Medicare for All" along with a public option in order to further the goal of universal coverage.

It made the case for the endorsement in a series of papers appearing as a supplement in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Currently, the United States is the only wealthy industrialized country that has not achieved universal health coverage,” the group stated in its position paper. “The nation's existing health care system is inefficient, unaffordable, unsustainable, and inaccessible to many.”

It made a number of recommendations as part of improving U.S. healthcare delivery, including, “transitioning to a system that achieves universal coverage with essential benefits and lower administrative costs through two potential approaches: a single-payer financing system or a publicly financed coverage option with regulated private insurance,” it stated in its coverage of the papers.

Calling the papers both extensive and forward-thinking, the group noted that, as internal medicine physicians, its members faced challenges on a daily basis in their efforts to deliver care in the current system.

“We can and must imagine what a better health care system looks like, and be committed to attaining it. ACP, through this vision, is willing to accept that challenge, and calls on others to join us. We believe the status quo is an unsustainable model for our country and most importantly, our patients,” stated Dr. Robert McClean, president of the ACP, adding, “all of us deserve better and better is possible.”

The organization stressed that under either a single-payer or public option model “cost-sharing should be eliminated and payments to physicians and other health professionals, hospitals, and others delivering health care services must be sufficient to ensure access and not perpetuate existing inequities including the undervaluation of primary and cognitive care.”

It also recommended that healthcare delivery and payment schemes be redesigned to offer “physician-led, team-based care delivery models in providing effective, patient-and-family centered care.”

In addition it called for bigger payments to primary and cognitive care providers, a redefinition of present performance measures to stress value to patients and aligning incentives to “better outcomes and lower costs.”

To control costs ACP proposed cutting back on “excessive prices, increasing adoption of global budgets and all-payer rate setting, prioritizing spending and resources, increasing investment in primary care, reducing administrative costs, promoting high-value care, and incorporating comparative effectiveness and cost into clinical guidelines and coverage decisions.”

ACP is not alone in its efforts. Even the AMA, for so long opposed to approaches like “Medicare for All” has begun to shift its position. In June, 2019, its House of Delegates shot down a measure that would have ended its opposition to single-payer approaches, but by a vote of 53 to 47 percent — coming out in support of fixing the Affordable Care Act instead, according to The Hill.

Then in August, 2019, the AMA dropped out of the industry group Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, which runs anti-Medicare-for-All and anti-public-option ads.

Pushing back against the ACP move, Lauren Crawford, executive director of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, called its proposals a “one-size-fits-all system controlled by politicians.”

The partnership is made up of various healthcare professionals, like doctors and nurses, and hospitals, as well as health insurance providers and biopharmaceutical companies. Their aim, Crawford stated, was “to ensure every American has access to the affordable, high-quality coverage they deserve.”