DAVID SCHEINER, MD, SIDNEY WOLFE, MD,  http://www.citizen.org

MARGARET FLOWERS, MD,  
http://www.md.pnhp.org, http://www.pnhp.org

At a news conference at the National Press Club today, David Scheiner, 
who was Obama's personal physician for 22 years, said he would not 
support a proposal currently working its way through Congress: "If we 
don't go the route of single payer, we're making a terrible mistake."

Asked if he has spoken to the president, Scheiner indicated he was 
disinvited from a recent forum that featured Obama. "I would give up my 
eyeteeth to speak to him. Perhaps he can invite his old doctor to the 
White House for a drink of water."

Speaking on the anniversary of Medicare's enactment 44 years ago, 
Scheiner stated that there is a great deal of disinformation about 
healthcare reform. He particularly focused on "this myth that the 
government would get between a doctor and patient. Medicare never gets 
between me and my patients. What does get in the way is the private 
insurance companies." Read Scheiner's full statement: 
http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/release.cfm?ID=2935

Joining Scheiner was Sidney Wolfe, MD, acting president of Public 
Citizen and director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group. Wolfe 
indicated that Obama's stated goals of universal coverage and budget 
neutrality can only be achieved with a single-payer model: "The private 
insurance industry can't exist in a program that is universal and cost 
neutral." Wolfe called the current proposal a "false promise" that "is 
no longer a bill for national health insurance," adding that "we are 
against Obamacare because it is a disaster for the millions left out."

Said Wolfe: "We should be celebrating the 44th anniversary of Medicare 
by finally passing legislation that would truly result in everybody in, 
nobody out, instead of seriously considering legislation that guarantees 
that millions still will be left out just so the private health 
insurance industry can stay in. A single-payer system, eliminating the 
private health insurance industry, with the resultant $400 billion 
annual savings -- that's $4 trillion over ten years -- is the only 
realistic way for everybody to be in."

Also speaking at the news conference was Dr. Margaret Flowers, a 
pediatrician who is congressional fellow with Physicians for a National 
Health Program, which just released a letter signed by over 3,500 
doctors, including Scheiner. The letter states: "Mr. President, you once 
embraced a single-payer reform that would threaten private insurers, and 
foresaw its passage if Democrats regained control of the House, the 
Senate and the White House. These conditions have been met. Yet now 
Democrats propose diverting additional billions to private insurers by 
requiring middle class Americans to purchase defective policies from 
these firms -- policies with so many gaps and loopholes that they 
currently leave millions of our insured patients vulnerable to financial 
ruin.

"Moreover, a 'public plan option' would do little to mitigate the damage 
of a reform that perpetuates private insurers’ dominant role. Even a 
robust public option would forego 90 percent of the bureaucratic savings 
achievable under single payer. And a kinder, gentler public option would 
quickly fail in a health care marketplace where competition involves a 
race to the bottom, not the top, where insurers compete by NOT paying 
for care. But HHS Secretary Sebelius has made clear that any public 
option will be far worse than that, specifically crafted to prevent it 
from evolving to a single payer. This kind of public option would amount 
to a government-run clone of private insurance, reproducing the worst 
features of private plans."

Video of the news conference will be posted at: 
http://www.singlepayeraction.org

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167