Doctor: Universal Health Care Opponents Play Public for Fools

In an address to the Redlands Democratic Club, Dr. Bill Honigman said the arguments that a single payer plan is socialized medicine or that the state cannot afford the plan is simply wrong.

By Gina Tenorio for

When it comes to a universal and single payer health care plan, Dr. Bill Honigman says people’s impressions are just plain wrong.

The Orange County-based emergency room physician spoke Saturday to members of the Redlands Democratic Club meeting to promote SB 810, titled the California Universal Health Act that advocates a single payer medical plan.

Warning them that California is in the midst of a health care crisis, he encouraged the group to promote the bill and its message.

“Single payer is not socialized medicine,” he told the crowd. “The VA is socialized medicine. The police and fire are socialized services, single payer is not.”

Honigman spoke to more than 50 Democrats, some who were doctors, who crammed into a small room at Napoli Italian Restaurant to hear Honigman speak and see a PowerPoint presentation about the bill proposed by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

The US spends more than $2.5 trillion a year on health care, twice as much as other wealthy nations, according to informational material provided by Honigman. And every year health insurance premiums grow four times faster than wages, according to the material.

Millions are without insurance. The seriously ill who have been ignoring serious conditions pack emergency rooms.

Despite how much the country pours into the health system, US health care is ranked 37th in the world below the small Central American country of Costa Rica.

“Single payer is a payment system without the manipulation on the providers,” he said. “Medicare is single payer. The government pays providers when they take you as a Medicare patient. And your charges have to be reasonable.”

There is no increased cost because the state, “already spends plenty of money — plenty of money — to cover every resident with better coverage than what most Californians have currently.”

“And we’re even getting what we’re paying for,” Honigman said.

Honigman expressed some frustration with the misinformation that has been spread, he said.

“There’s only one things people hate more than taxes and that’s being played for a fool,” Honigman said. “And right now, we’re all being made fools.”

The plan proposed in SB 810 would provide fair reimbursement and cut the amount paid out for clinical and administrative costs, according to the informational materials, Honigman said.

Vermont is already has a single payer program, he told the crowd.

“Vermont, with their plan, they estimate they will save about a half a billion dollars the first year,” he said. “And their population is one 60th of ours. It’s about a half a million people, 500,000 people is all they have and they’re going to save half a billion dollars. We have 30 million people in California, we save 30 billion. What’s the state’s budget deficit, $24 billion? So the first year we wipe out the state budget deficit and have money left over. That’s after you provide the care. We’re talking comprehensive care.”

Right now, the bill is headed toward appropriations. Honigman said they anticipate it will hit the Senate floor by the first of the year.

“We all know it’s the right thing to do,” Honigman said. “It’s social and economic justice.”