MedPage Today: UMass Medical School health policy expert says single-payer has pluses, minuses for doctors

February 01, 2016

A single-payer health care system has both pluses and minuses for the doctors who would have to operate under the model, UMass Medical School health policy expert Katharine London, MS, told MedPage Today. London led the team that developed the Vermont single-payer financing model.

“If there were one plan and everybody had one set of rules, the good part of that is that doctors could focus all their efforts on ensuring that those rules make sense; on the other hand, if there's a rule they don't like, that affects all patients and they can't go around it," said London, principal at the Center for Health Law and Economics, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.

The Jan. 27 MedPage Today article examined the impact of single-payer on physicians after presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released a proposal to implement a national single-payer health care system.

London said the success of any single-payer plan is in the details of how it is implemented.

"I don't think how the plan is financed affects the practice of medicine necessarily,” she said. “If you could change the system so doctors could practice medicine and spend time with their patients, I think that's really what doctors want."

The Center for Health Law and Economics started working with Vermont on a financing model soon after its legislature voted to approve a single-payer system in 2011. Ultimately, Vermont did not proceed with the model.

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