Doctors help fund Maine task force to come up with universal healthcare plan

Doctors in Maine are helping to fund a commission to come up with a plan for universal healthcare in the state. (jansucko/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Doctors in Maine are opening their wallets to help fund a task force that will look at a universal healthcare system for the state.

Doctors, medical groups and residents will fund the commission, which is tasked with coming up with a proposal for a publicly financed healthcare system that would be run by the state government or a contracted company, according to the Associated Press. Maine residents would be able to choose between the public system or private insurance coverage.

Given the failure of Republicans in Congress to garner support for a multitude of proposals to reform healthcare, more doctors are increasingly supportive of a single-payer healthcare system—which is a big shift from the past. A new survey by MDLinx found that physicians favor a single-payer system by a slight margin, despite the fact that many think physician income will suffer under such a system and the quality of care will decrease.

In Maine, the Task Force on Health Care Coverage For All of Maine has raised about $7,000 of the roughly $9,000 needed to fund its work, with a June 30 deadline to raise the remaining money, the AP said.

California has also explored a single-payer healthcare system. But the controversial proposal, which would establish a system in which the state would cover all residents’ healthcare costs, has stalled in committee in the state legislature.

The MDLinx survey found physicians favor a single-payer healthcare system, such as the one envisioned in Senator Bernie Sanders' “Medicare for All” proposal, by a three point margin (48% over a multiple-payer system support figure of 45%).

RELATED: Special Report—8 ways to fix the Affordable Care Act

That mirrored a national survey released earlier this month by Merritt Hawkins and Associates that found a growing acceptance of a single-payer system by doctors (56%)—a near reversal of a 2008 survey when 58% of doctors opposed the idea.

A LinkedIn survey in February also found almost half of doctors support a single-payer system. Doctors said the current fragmented system is a barrier for patients who either don’t have health insurance or can’t find a doctor who accepts their coverage. It would also be more efficient and eliminate the administrative burden of dealing with multiple insurance companies, they said.