The Resident & Fellow Physician Union – Northwest board is proud to join numerous other local and national unions and healthcare advocacy groups in endorsing Washington state representative Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare for All Act of 2021 (H.R. 1976).
This bill would establish a national single payer universal healthcare system, bringing the United States up to speed with many other nations around the world to provide universal access to affordable healthcare.
Representative Jayapal’s endorsement says it all: “Today’s healthcare system fails to provide quality, therapeutic healthcare as a right to all people living in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans are uninsured, and at least 40 million more cannot afford the costs of their co-pays and deductibles. The quality of our healthcare is much worse than other industrialized countries—the life expectancy in the U.S. is lower than other nations, while our infant mortality rate is much higher. Yet the U.S. spends more money per capita on healthcare than any other industrialized nation. We waste hundreds of billions of dollars every year on unnecessary administrative costs, while healthcare industry executives measure success in profits, instead of patient care. The current healthcare system in the United States is ineffective, inefficient and outrageously expensive. It is time to remove the profit motive in healthcare, to resolve the inefficiencies and to guarantee quality, therapeutic healthcare to every person living in the United States.”
Many residents and fellows and our families have personally been uninsured, underinsured, or impacted by high healthcare costs. We have all seen the effects of lack of insurance, high cost to consumers, and profit-driven insurance decisions on our patients. Yet, US physicians have long failed to advocate for universal coverage. Worse, the AMA has overtly opposed nationalized healthcare for decades. Lack of insurance coverage has the most devastating impact on marginalized communities, including low-wage earners and communities of color. Achieving universal coverage is an issue of health equity, racial justice, and workers’ rights. Complicity with the current system directly violates our ethical imperative to be agents of justice in the practice of medicine.
No bill or system is perfect, but the current Medicare for All bill is a significant step in the ongoing process to achieve universal, affordable coverage and restructure healthcare for patients and workers. As physicians, we must advocate for all of our patients and our communities by demanding change to our disastrous for profit healthcare system and re-centering the patient-physician relationship. Public trust in physicians has been falling for some time – something we saw contribute to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans during the COVID pandemic. Now is the time to earn back the trust of our communities by joining them in advocating for this important piece of legislation. Still, passing M4A is not enough. We must fight for a seat at the table to shape single payer health insurance and ensure that efficiency, equity, and evidence are prioritized in M4A’s implementation.
We applaud Representative Jayapal for advocating for the most vulnerable in our society, and encourage other physician groups and union partners to join in support of Medicare for All.