Panel Explores Single-Payer System

Our DCMS Governmental Affairs Committee hosted an exploratory discussion of the issues around a single-payer system on Wednesday January 8, 2020, helping members better understand the potential advantages and shortcomings of the option.

DCMS past president, Lawrence Schouten, MD, opened the dynamic session with a brief history of the major milestones in U.S. healthcare financing over the past century. Then John Perryman, MD, northern Illinois co-president of the Physicians for a National Health Program organization, shared how a publicly financed National Health Program (NHP) could fully cover medical care for all Americans, while lowering costs by eliminating the overhead expenses in the existing profit-driven private insurance system.

Kara Murphy, president of the DuPage Health Coalition, described herself as "agnostic" about a single-payer system, but wholly supportive of an efficient and effective model of care – unlike the current system. She offered valuable perspective on how healthcare financing policy opinions and decisions are based on perceptions and politics, rather than evidence-based analysis.

Paul Erlich, a third year medical student at Midwestern University, noting that most students and physicians see healthcare as a human right, expressed dismay about the disparities in the existing system. He also worried about the high cost of medical education, which drives physicians in training toward more lucrative specialties rather than primary care.

Following spirited discussion, attendees ended the session with a request that the Society continue to host explorations of related issues.

US Life Expectancy Declines

Grim Reaper

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last week found that overall life expectancy in the U.S. has declined for three consecutive years, driven down by suicides, drug overdoses, organ-system diseases, and other causes that have been rising over the past decade for young and middle-aged adults.

Other wealthy nations, meanwhile, continue to experience continued progress in extending longevity. The report notes that the U.S. has the worst midlife mortality rate among 17 high-income countries, despite leading the world in per-capita spending on health care. 

The study's authors suggest that the nation's lifespan reversal is being driven by diseases linked to social and economic privation, a healthcare system with glaring gaps and blind spots, and profound psychological distress.

Donation Tips

Consider these strategies in your charitable giving plans.
  • Donor Advised Fund (DAF). You can make a gift through your DAF. Now regarded as the fastest-growing charitable giving vehicle in the United States, a Donor Advised Fund is like a charitable investment account, used for the sole purpose of supporting charitable organizations you care about. When you contribute cash, stocks, or non-publicly traded assets such as real estate, private business interests and private company stock to a Donor Advised Fund, you are usually eligible to take an immediate tax deduction for the full value of the asset. Once in the Fund, those assets can be sold tax free and reinvested into other investment options that continue to grow tax free until you direct grants to any IRS-qualified public charity.

  • Use Your IRA Required Distributions. If age 70½ or better consider Qualified Charitable Distributions. These count toward your required minimum distribution for the year. If you have to take RMDs but you don't really want or need the money, QCDs can be a good way to help the Foundation, satisfy the  required minimum distribution amount and avoid a potential 50% excise tax penalty. You'll also avoid paying income tax on the distributions.