Health & Science

Houston-Trained Doctor Leads Push For Single-Payer Health Plan

Dr. Robert Zarr, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, says the Affordable Care Act didn’t go far enough. He says only “Medicare for all” will cover everyone and stop medical bankruptcies.


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Dr. Robert Zarr
Dr. Robert Zarr

The Affordable Care Act has been a target of Republican opposition for years now. But there are also many left-leaning Americans who don't like the law because they feel it doesn't do enough. They point out that many people can't afford the high deductibles on some of the new health plans, and there are still 32 million uninsured people remaining in the U.S.

Dr. Robert Zarr, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, is rallying support for a single-payer health system. Zarr returned recently to Houston to talk about the plan. It was a homecoming of sorts, as Zarr attended Baylor College of Medicine, completed his pediatrics residency at Texas Children's Hospital, and also earned a master's degree in public health from the University of Texas School of Public Health.

Now Zarr works as a pediatrician in Washington, D.C., in addition to his advocacy for PNHP. He describes his proposed system as similar to Medicare, but for all ages, and with some key "fixes," such as the elimination of out-of-pocket costs for medical care. Residents would pay for the system through taxes.

"There are no more deductibles. There are no more co-pays, except to say it is not free," Zarr said. "We pay taxes, and we do it in a progressive tax system. So the wealthier pay more than the poor, but at the end of the day we all get care in the same hospitals, we get our drugs in the same pharmacy and we get freedom of choice. We can go anywhere we want to go."

Zarr's group specifically supports H.B. 676, the "Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act," which is sponsored by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan. The bill currently has 63 co-sponsors, including Texas representatives Congressman Al Green, D-Houston, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston.

You can hear the full interview in the audio player above.





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