News Release

Health Law’s Complexity Invites Legal Attack, Even as it Fails to Cure Ailment

ROBERT ZARR, via Mark Almberg, mark at pnhp.org, @PNPH
President of Physicians for a National Health Program, Zarr is a D.C.-based pediatrician who will be in front of the Supreme Court buildingon Wednesday at 10 a.m. Zarr said today: “The King v. Burwell case is yet another reason to swiftly move beyond the failing ACA to a simpler, publicly financed, improved-Medicare-for-All system. Such a system would cover everyone, make care affordable, and control costs. Based on our experience with the Medicare program and the experience of other nations, we know it will work. It’s the only moral and fiscally responsible thing to do.” Zarr just wrote the piece “The Obamacare Challenge We Need? Improved, Expanded Medicare for All.”

Almberg is PNHP communications director. The group just released a statement “Health law’s complexity invites attack, even as it fails to cure ailment: doctors group,” which states: “This week’s arguments before the Supreme Court in the case of King v. Burwell demonstrate once again how the Affordable Care Act’s administrative complexity and flaws — largely reflecting its accommodation to the private health insurance industry and other corporate, profit-oriented interests in U.S. health care — make it vulnerable to legal attacks by its opponents.

“The ACA clearly lacks the simplicity and legal robustness that a single-payer plan would have. Single-payer would be simple: everyone in the U.S. would be covered for all medically necessary care in a single program financed by equitable taxes.

“If the court upholds King and his fellow plaintiffs’ challenge to premium subsidies in over 30 states, the health and financial harms to our patients will be considerable. By some estimates, more than 8 million people will quickly lose insurance coverage, increasing the intolerable suffering we already see today.

“One consequence of this loss of coverage would be an additional 8,000 ‘excess deaths’ each year — deaths linked to lack of insurance. That figure is over and above the estimated 30,000 annual preventable deaths that are currently occurring under the ACA due to its having left 30 million people uninsured. This is completely unacceptable.

“Regardless of how the court rules, the unfortunate reality is that the ACA won’t be able achieve universal coverage. It won’t make care affordable or protect people from medical bankruptcy. Nor will it be able to control costs.

“The ACA is fundamentally flawed in these respects because, by design, it perpetuates the central role of the private insurance industry and other corporate and for-profit interests (e.g. Big Pharma) in U.S. health care.

“In contrast, a single-payer system — an improved Medicare-for-All — would achieve truly universal care, affordability, and effective cost control. It would be simple to administer, saving approximately $400 billion annually by slashing the administrative bloat in our private-insurance-based system. That money would be redirected to clinical care. Copays and deductibles would be eliminated.

“A growing section of the insured population is already facing very high copays, deductibles and coinsurance, deterring them from seeking needed care. This trend is toxic and unsustainable.”