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American College of Physicians Endorses Medicare for All

Published Jan. 27, 2020

While many in the health care industry voice opposition to Democratic plans touting Medicare for All, the proposal recently gained one ardent group of supporters: The American College of Physicians (ACP).

The ACP is the second-largest doctors group in the U.S. with around 159,000 members and represents doctors practicing internal medicine, many of whom serve as primary care physicians for patients. 

The ACP’s endorsement could signal a potential attitude shift among others in the health care field, such as the largest doctors group, the American Medical Association (AMA), who have taken an opposing stance to Medicare for All. The AMA voted in opposition of endorsing Medicare for All 53 percent to 47 percent in June of 2019. 

ACP supports single-payer system as well as public option

The ACP endorsed both a full-scale single-payer health care system along with an optional government-run plan. The group also endorsed a payment system for doctors and hospitals that incentivizes quality instead of quantity of care.  

The ACP delivered its endorsement in a 43-page position paper titled “Envisioning a Better U.S. Health Care System for All: Coverage and Cost of Care.” The paper was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on January 21, 2020.

An excerpt from the paper reads:1

Although the United States leads the world in health care spending, it fares far worse than its peers on coverage and most dimensions of value. Cost and coverage are intertwined. Many Americans cannot afford health insurance, and even those with insurance face substantial cost-related barriers to care. Employer-sponsored insurance is less prevalent and more expensive than in the past, and in response, deductibles have grown and benefits have been cut. The long-term solvency of U.S. public insurance programs is a perennial concern. The United States spends far more on healthcare administration than peer countries. Administrative barriers divert time from patient care and frustrate patients, clinicians, and policymakers. Major changes are needed to a system that costs too much, leaves too many behind, and delivers too little.”

The ACP laid out four key recommendations for achieving universal coverage:

  1. Transfer to a system with essential benefits and lower administrative costs.

  2. Coverage should not be dependent on a person’s place of residence, employment, health status or income.

  3. Coverage should ensure sufficient access to clinicians, hospitals and other sources of care.

  4. Two options exist for achieving these objectives: a single-payer financing approach or a publicly-financed option offered alongside regulated private insurance. 

In a separate but related endorsement, more than two thousand physicians backed an open letter to the American public prescribing Medicare for All, which was published in a full-page ad in The New York Times on Jan. 21. 

Learn more about the current Medicare system, which offers health insurance coverage to qualified Americans who are age 65 and older and some Americans who have a qualifying condition or disability.