Single-payer health care has strong popular support, and doctors want it, too.

Conventional wisdom is that single payer health care is too radical an idea for the mainstream of either the Democratic or the Republican party to support. Bush has been trying to convert the federal single-payer system for the elderly, Medicare, to managed care, and has rejected a single-payer system for the new Medicare drug benefit, instead using it to pilot a conversion of Medicare to managed care.

Meanwhile, everyone hates for-profit managed care, at least anyone who has any contact with it.

Today, a survey of doctors published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that 64% of doctors support a single-payer health care system. Only 10% support managed care. 26% support the traditional fee-for-service system. Previous polls have found that the idea of single payer is popular with the public as well.

Medicare has been a quite successful single-payer system, with administrative costs that are much lower than those of managed care companies. The Republicans are trying to privatize Medicare because it is an example of a successful government administered program. The new Medicare "reform" will pay HMOs and insurance companies huge subsidies in hopes they can successfully "compete" with the government-administered program, even though the "competition" is being stacked to ensure that the HMOs prevail. Plus the drug benefit will be entirely HMO administered, even though the federal government could get better prices. (That's why drugs are so much cheaper in single-payer Canada.) Doctors support single payer because for-profit managed care is a disaster for almost everyone-- patients, doctors, and employers. The only beneficiaries are HMO executives and shareholders. the pharmaceutical companies, and politicians' campaign coffers.

The Democrats, at least, opposed Bush's efforts to privatize Medicare. But the presidential candidates have been far too timid, with only Kucinich, Mosely Braun, and Sharpton supporting single payer.