WASHINGTON — The Puerto Rico College of Physicians and Surgeons urged President Obama today to create a single-payer pilot program on the island, saying it is the best way to provide universal coverage to all of Puerto Rico’s 4 million residents.
Members of the organization, which represents all 11,000 physicians on the island, joined other health professionals and representatives from community groups this morning to demonstrate their support for single-payer health reform. The advocates rallied in Lafayette Park in front of the White House and are also meeting with congressional representatives during their visit to Washington.
“This is a matter of both health and social justice,” said Dr. Eduardo Ibarra, president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. “We can create a system in which access to health care is recognized as a basic right for all, and does not depend on ability to pay, age, race, gender or health status. Puerto Rico stands ready to take the lead in health reform.”
The physicians’ group has petitioned Obama to support a pilot program that would create a single-payer system administered by the government that would provide universal health coverage to all Puerto Rico residents.
The proposed program would end the island’s multi-tiered system, under which those who need the most coverage receive the least health care. Puerto Rico has enough hospitals, clinics and private physicians to adequately care for its population if there a single-payer health program, Ibarra said.
The proposed pilot project would:
* Address the current inequities, and bring social justice to its citizens,
* Remedy the current erosion of employer-based health insurance, the result of growing unemployment, and
* Centralize all billing, leading to administrative efficiencies.
In addition, the single-payer system would be able to collect up-to-date data on health care consumption patterns, unmet needs, and costs. This information database would also allow for more effective allocation of resources, and would identify potential overutilization of services.