Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

July 11, 2009


Flesh & Stone - A senior physician-academician and former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine says none of the leading health care reform proposals being considered by Congress address the underlying cause of the health care crisis: out-of-control costs. . .

Rehlman was a guest on NPR's Science Friday program. He said none of the leading proposals for health care reform, including President Obama's "public option" plan, address the underlying problem of spiraling costs due to a system devoted to profits.

He said if the Obama plan passes "we'll spend billions and billions more covering people that are currently underinsured," adding that extending health care is a good thing. "But it will break the bank."

- Eliminate incentives for overpricing and under providing of care.
- Make the entire health care system non-profit.
- Eliminate insurance companies, the "middlemen" of health care.
- Have physicians and other clinical staff work in multi-specialty health centers and be paid a salary by a government single-payer program.

. Eliminating private, for-profit insurance would reduce health care costs by 40 percent. Eliminating unnecessary tests and treatments would reduce costs by about 33 percent. Bundling those savings along with the 10 to 15 percent allowed as tax deductions for employers providing health care to workers and placing them into a central non-profit system would achieve health care for all, he said.

Rehlman diverges from other single-payer advocates that are calling for a "Medicare for all" type program. He says Medicare isn't a perfect model because it doesn't control costs either and "its costs are rising almost as fast as for-profit health care."


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