06/14/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Promise of Universal Health Care: An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

You have given us the "audacity of hope" and the promise of change. You have vociferously indicated that our health care system is in need of major change. You have said that 50 million Americans are uninsured. Medicare is moving toward bankruptcy and taking down the economy with it. But where is the change, Mr. President?

It seems that the for-profit segment of the health care industry (pharmaceutical companies, AMA and the American Hospital Association) have got your ear. The same special interests that have given us the most expensive, poorest quality health care among developed countries (37th rank) are now suddenly pretending to be champions of reform.

Frankly, their legislative agenda is a patent effort to stop the public demand for a meaningful universal health care system through a single payer. They believe as long as they throw the dog a bone and push some sort of half measure through congress they will be taking the wind out of the sails of the public push for (God forbid) a nonprofit, single payer system. It reminds us of the multi-year attempt of the cigarette industry to wage a "stop smoking" campaign! The present push for fast-track legislation is once again putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

So far, all the talk seems to equate a single payer system with "government-run socialized medicine." We know that over the years the for-profit health care industry has spent millions of dollars to demonize "socialized medicine." Therefore, in the eyes of most people a government-run program is a non-starter. It is thought of in terms of long lines, poor service and increased tax burden. This myth is generally embedded in the public mind, despite the fact that all the developed countries have a more or less government-run service with universal coverage, giving much better care at half our per capita cost.

But let's not go down this path at all, which would require a major shift in public perceptions. There is another way, a much better and more efficient way that we can have universal health care, including preventive care, with good quality control, that covers everyone. It will save our economy over $1 trillion each and every year.

This is more than what we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since 9/11. How can this be done? It can simply be accomplished through a nonprofit (I stress: nonprofit), single payer, people-funded, people-managed, private insurance agency. This plan is described in detail in the book Universal Health Care System for the United States of America, accessible at

In that plan, the government buys the policies for the elderly and indigent through Medicare and Medicaid, albeit at less than half the present cost. Other people and/or their employers buy the policies for the private sector. The management is elected by individuals named in the policy, regardless of who has paid for the policy, just like shareholders in a corporation. It is a non-profit, privately managed, single payer insurance corporation that runs like a co-op.

Mr. President, please glance at this plan or have your key people at least look at it. Over 90% of people who have read it are emphatically in favor of it. Many of the details are explained in the book and make the plan even more attractive. More refinements, no doubt, will emerge in the process of legislation and implementation. If instituted, the plan will save 1.7 million jobs, keep our industrial base at home, save our economy over $1 trillion a year, provide good quality universal care, keep us away from for-profit surgical knives, cut our budget deficit each and every year, keep Medicare from going bankrupt and also bring integrity back to our medical research and education.

Mr. President, we agree with the "don't let perfect be the enemy of good" mantra. But in this case, please "don't let tricky greed be the enemy of honest health care reform."

Mr. President, the American people need true health care reform, and you promised us exactly that. The nonprofit, universal health care system outlined in the book goes a long way to deliver on your promises.