Puerto Rican doctors rally at White House, urge Obama to create pilot single-payer system on island

Public Citizen News Release

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.


  1. Vashti Winterburg on July 1, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Gosh! This is great! How can we support this movement? Vashti Winterburg

  2. Eliza Jane Dodd on July 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I will move there because I was sprayed for 7 years with Malithion in West Tn .I do not QUALIFY for ANYTHING Like the Town HALL MEETING Lady that prs.Obama says he is going to HELP ? I am very sick I need medical Attention now …

    • Anselmo on July 7, 2009 at 5:33 pm

      Hola Eliza, Iam sorry to hear of your plight if we a lucky enough to get the Universal Health Coverage pilot in Puerto Rico you will be more then welcome.

      • Eliza Jane Dodd on July 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm

        Thank You and GOD BLESS That is the Kindest Words anyone has said to me since I got sick in 2003 ! GOD BLESS YOU AND YOURS !! I will move there in a Heart Beat !

  3. sue oelkers on July 7, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    ****************************** AN OPEN LETTER TO THE US CONGRESS ******************************

    ——————————— Heed this or enjoy your last term in US Congress ———————————-

    We, the people, DEMAND that Single Payer be included in whatever Health Care Reform legislation you pass. We will be watching your actions closely, so, keep the following in mind before casting your vote. Make it count for all Americans :-

    Health Care Reform is MEANINGLESS if:

    1. There is no Public Option ( No Co-ops, No Triggers ).
    2. Everybody is not covered. (Without Exception)
    3. Coverage can be denied based on “Pre-existing” conditions.
    4. It does not contain Patients’ Rights.
    5. Strict Regulations are not imposed on insurance plans.
    6. Affordability and costs to consumers, as well as providers, are not addressed.
    7. Accessibility, delivery and quality are not maintained and/or improved.
    8. There’s NO oversight from medical, financial and nat.ional sec.urity persp.ectives.
    9. Profit motive is NOT REMOVED.
    10. Innovation, Research guidelines and funding are not addressed.

    Health Care For Patients, NOT For Profit because Health Care For Profit is Health Care DENIED.

    Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should an insurance middleman come between a patient and his/her doctor – especially, if the insurance middleman stands to gain from it.


    Insurance has no business being in Health Care. They contribute nothing towards it. NOTHING!

    Single Payer For All Now! ( S*P*F*A*N ) -*-*- Everybody IN, Nobody OUT.

    IT’S THE ONLY RIGHT CHOICE – there’s NO EXCUSE for anything else.

    • Ellizabeth J. Singh on July 8, 2009 at 1:46 pm

      I agree and stand behind every word in Sue Oelkers open letter to Congress. Universal coverage and a single payer health financing
      will make a large change in our economy, our quality of life, and how we spend our national and personal incomes. We will have to get serious about PREVENTING illness and accidents caused by working conditions. We will have to treat everyone as valued members of our society. We will have to train and pay more people to deliver health services. We will have to stop winking at people who sell products dangerous to health. The sooner we do this the better.

      If we let the for-profit health insurance companies bribe and trick us out of a single payer, universal coverage health care system, the United States will be the laughingstock of the developed world.