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Doctors call for a single-payer system

Tomorrow afternoon, Stanford will host a policy forum on health care, with a focus on whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can fix our country's woes. One of the speakers, Margaret Flowers, MD, thinks the new law most definitely cannot, and she'll be talking about the benefits of her preferred system: single-payer.

Flowers is part of Mad As Hell Doctors, a physician group that advocates for a single-payer system. When I spoke with her last week she did, indeed, sound mad about our country’s health-care system, telling me the new law doesn’t represent real reform and was "written for and by corporations." She told me it “falls far short of what we need to do," and she said its passage has energized people in her movement to continue pushing for what they consider meaningful reform. "The crisis is real and people are feeling that, and they’re recognizing that the legislation that passed is not effective," she said.

Flowers knows firsthand the problems with our system: When in private practice in Maryland, she repeatedly ran into "things that kept obstructing my ability to provide quality care." Fed up, she left her practice three years ago to pursue advocacy work.

But why single payer? After doing extensive research on the different options, Flowers said single-payer jumped out at her as a no-brainer. "It gives you administrative savings so that the majority of dollars goes to heath care, and it puts into place a system to make rational decisions," she said. She also told me it's crucial that the health industry has an incentive to create better health care - not just to earn big profits.

The forum, which is open to the public, is part of Mad As Hell Doctors’ 20-city tour throughout California to raise public support for single-payer legislation. Stanford professor Arnold Milstein, MD, director of the Stanford Clinical Excellence Research Center, will also be talking.

Previously: Little love for single-payer

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