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Paper Chase

A national health program: northern light at the end of the tunnel.

JAMA. Oct 20, 1989;262(15):2136-7.
Woolhandler S, Himmelstein DU.

Department of Medicine, Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Mass.


Woolhandler and Himmelstein are members of Physicians for a National Health Policy, a working group that proposes a reform of health care financing in the United States. In this commentary, they describe a national health program (NHP) that would create a single tax-funded comprehensive insurer in each state, federally mandated but locally controlled. The NHP would be similar to the Canadian system of financing health care, which is described here and contrasted with the inflationary, fragmented, bureaucracy-laden system now in place in the United States. Woolhandler and Himmelstein call for a complete overhaul of health care financing in this country that would reduce bureaucratic overhead and intrusion into the physician patient relationship, reduce health care costs, reallocate funds from administration to clinical care, and allow all Americans access to care.