Survey: Majority of U.S. Physicians Now Support Single-Payer
For the past century, socialists, progressives, communists, statists, and an increasing number of Democrats have supported the imposition of a government-run socialized medical care system in the United States. Every Democrat president since FDR (except JFK and possibly Jimmy Carter) has spoken in favor of or introduced a plan for socialized medicine. Now, it finally appears that a critical mass has been achieved and the Rubicon has been crossed.
A Quinnipiac University national poll on August 3, 2017 reported “Replacing the current health care system with a single payer system in which Medicare covers every American citizen is a good idea, voters say 51-38 percent.” This reported majority support for single-payer reflects recent samplings of public opinion by Pew Research and other polling organizations. Citing a September 28, 2017 Quinnipiac survey, a CNN article on September 30, “Majority of Democratic voters are all-in on single-payer,” further advanced the story:
Asked in a new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday whether they support a single-payer system, in which the federal government would expand Medicare to cover the medical expenses of every American citizen, nearly two in three Democratic voters (65%) said it was a "good idea."
That result mostly fell in line with other recent surveys, which have shown increased backing among liberals and independents, with a slight upward trend across the board.
But the Quinnipiac poll pushed harder, incorporating another key detail into a subsequent question – the specter of a tax hike.
"Would you think that a single payer system is a good idea or a bad idea if it removed all health insurance premiums, but also increased your taxes?" the pollsters asked. With the added information, support dropped, but not as much as one might expect. Fifty-nine percent, just slightly down from 65%, still called it a "good idea.”
A “good idea” now that was once considered anathema
During the entire 20th century, the American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s largest organization of physicians, strongly opposed socialized medicine. By and large, most of the American people and their political leaders were with the AMA. That began to change in 1993 when Bill and Hillary Clinton pushed their unsuccessful but groundbreaking national health care reform plan right out of the box. Meanwhile, medical education, like most higher education around that time, had institutionalized promoting socialism and indoctrinating new students in collectivist concepts like “health care as a right.” The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) in particular took up the charge for government-run health care and the nation’s nursing associations, hotbeds of social justice, socialism, and radical, anti-hierarchy activism, also started mobilizing for the long march ahead.
Another recent survey has found that a majority of the nation’s doctors – not just idealistic medical students – are now for the first time finally and fully on board with government-guaranteed and -run health care. This revelation suggests that another wall against socialized medicine has been breached. MDLinx: “The majority of United States physicians—56%—support a single-payer health care system,” according to the survey, conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a Dallas-based physician recruitment search firm.
The survey relied on detailed responses from over one thousand licensed physicians who were asked about single-payer. According to the MDLinx article:
- 14% [of physicians] somewhat support a single-payer health care system
- 42% strongly support it
- 6% somewhat oppose it
- 35% strongly oppose it
- 3% neither support nor oppose it
The 2017 results, according to a Merritt Hawkins news release, “contrast with a national survey of physicians Merritt Hawkins conducted in 2008, which indicated that 58 percent of physicians opposed single payer at that time while 42 percent supported it.” Merritt Hawkins cites four reasons why a growing number of physicians are in favor of single payer. “First, they are seeking clarity and stability.”
Second, it’s a generational issue. The various surveys that Merritt Hawkins has conducted for The Physicians Foundation in the past show that younger doctors are more accepting of Obamacare, ACOs, EHR, and change in general than are older physicians As the new generation of physicians comes up, there is less resistance among doctors to single payer.
Third, there is a feeling of resignation rather than enthusiasm among some physicians about single payer. These physicians believe we are drifting toward single payer and would just as soon get it over with. [emphasis added.] The 14% of physicians surveyed who said they "somewhat" support single payer are probably in this group.
Fourth, there is a philosophical change among physicians that I think the public and political leaders on both sides of the aisle now share, which is that we should make an effort to cover as many people as possible.
Travis Singleton, Senior Vice President of Merritt Hawkins, commented: “Physicians appear to have evolved on single payer. Whether they are enthusiastic about it, are merely resigned to it, or are just seeking clarity, single payer is a concept many physicians appear to be embracing.”
Some of the comments by doctors who responded to the Merritt Hawkins survey as reported by MDLinx are revealing.
“As a CPA and an MD, I believe strongly in a single-payer system that removes the insurance industry from the medical delivery system. We must restore the sacred relationship between patient and physician, and only when we move toward a single-payer system can we ever restore it,” said pediatrician Craig M. Uhl, MD, of Palm Desert, CA.
“A governmental program with basic insurance paid by income taxes and contracted out to insurance companies by the individual states with standard forms, denials, and expected payments would simplify medical practice,” said OB/GYN and professor emeritus Selman Welt, MD, of Johnson City, TN. “Despite all the complaints against Medicare and Medicaid, they pay promptly and you know how they will react and how to make appeals. Then if some people want a more deluxe plan, the insurance companies can provide that with a second tier of standardized services.”
“We would probably earn less per patient, but more people would get needed health care so it would average the same,” said psychiatrist Jed Shapiro, MD, of Boulder, CO.
“Currently, medical and surgical subspecialists are overpaid (and ideally should earn less) and generalists are underpaid (and ideally should earn more),” said cardiologist Wade Martin, MD, of St. Louis, MO.
Not all of the respondents were enthralled with the possibility of single-payer.
“I do not care about the money,” said osteopath and family medicine physician Harold Kornylak, DO, of Virginia Beach, VA. “It would destroy free choice, individual responsibility, innovation, and make medical care like working for McDonald’s.”
The field of innovative alternative medicine has sold out, too
At one time in fairly recent history, for example during the 1970s and ‘80s, the growing field of innovative alternative medicine was a hotbed for support for medical freedom and many alternative medicine providers and patients were active politically in that area of ensuring medical freedom of choice. That began to change in the 1990s when, as I can report from personal experience, many among the new generation of natural medicine students and practitioners began to be influenced by, and then start espousing, pro-socialist ideas relating to medical care.
Eventually, entire professions of so-called alternative medicine were seduced and co-opted to abandon their commitments to medical freedom and pluralism and jump on the bandwagon of single-payer. Insidiously, federal agencies at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere burrowed in the Deep State bureaucracy, supposedly established to integrate alternative medicine into the mainstream, assisted in that co-optation and seduction.
The collectivist impulse that is enveloping society has now blossomed into full scale support for socialized medicine on the part of natural health care physicians’ groups, like those representing licensed naturopathic doctors. A 2013 article about Obamacare published by a leading naturopathic medical school, Bastyr University in Washington, for example, was titled “Health Care Reform Extends Reach of Naturopathic Medicine.” That same year, the author of an article at the Web site of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians wrote glowingly about a particular section of Obamacare, that it “offers naturopathic medicine a true watershed, and we’re making the most of this golden opportunity.”
Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D. (1947-2015) photographed in his office in 2005
Photo © by Peter Barry Chowka
One of innovative medicine’s most acclaimed practitioners, the late Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D., spoke frequently about the Faustian bargain represented by socialized medicine and its fellow traveling Pied Pipers. He pointed to government-controlled health care’s incompatibility with medical innovation and freedom. When Gonzalez passed away suddenly in July 2015, the world lost a clear and articulate voice for sanity in health care, including the politics of medicine.
In 2005, in a lengthy interview that I did with Gonzalez on socialized medicine, he commented:
Medical science always thrives when there's freedom to think independently. Socialized medicine doesn't allow that because it requires physicians to practice according to preset standards. That's the way the Canadian system is. You can't deviate from those standards at all. The trouble is that medicine is not a fixed science. It requires creativity, originality in thinking in new ways. Socialized medicine doesn't allow that. If socialized medicine worked, they would have had to build a Berlin Wall to keep people out. Instead, they had to build the Berlin Wall to keep people in because they were trying to escape socialism and socialized medicine.
Peter Barry Chowka has reported on health care, with an emphasis on alternative medicine, since 1972. Between 1992-’94 he was an advisor to the National Institutes of Health. His new Web site is AltMedNews.net. Follow Peter on Twitter.