American College of Physicians Promotes ‘Medicare for All’ Plan

The nation’s largest medical specialty association, the American College of Physicians, has endorsed single-payer national health insurance as “one pathway” to universal medical coverage. The association represents specialists in internal medicine, and has 124,000 members. The endorsement came after the group reviewed the health systems in 12 other countries.

ACP has advocated universal coverage for Americans since 1990, and even floated its own proposal for reform, with a pluralistic perspective, in 2002. This is the first time the group has endorsed single-payer national health insurance, however.

“There’s really only one choice for universal health care at a cost we can afford, and that’s single-payer Medicare for all,” says Marcia Angell, MD, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, and a master with the ACP, an honorary title bestowed for a distinguished career. “There is simply no way to cover everyone in a pluralistic system and control costs.”

In the position paper “Achieving a High Performance Health Care System with Universal Access: What the U.S.A. Can Learn from Other Countries,” published on the Annals of Internal Medicine Web site, the group says its recommendation is based on a large and growing body of evidence that the U.S. health system is performing poorly compared to nations with single-payer national health insurance.

The white paper states that “Single-payer systems generally have the advantage of being more equitable, with lower administrative costs than systems using private health insurance, lower per-capita health care expenditures, high levels of consumer and patient satisfaction, and high performance on measures of quality and access.”