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Saint Louis University School of Medicine—DEBATE: Single-Payer Healthcare v. Free Market Healthcare

January 8, 2016 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm


BE IT RESOLVED: Single-payer is an effective way to reduce cost and improve healthcare outcomes.

This will be a debate between Dr. Ed Weisbart, Chair of Missouri | Physicians for a National Health Plan (PHNP), and Dr. Josh Umbehr, founder of AtlasMD, on what provides the most effective ways to reduce costs and improve healthcare outcomes: a single-payer healthcare system, or other solutions based on the free market.

BRI Ed Weisbart MDDr. Weisbart will be arguing the affirmative, supporting a single-payer system.



Dr. Josh Umbehr, AtlasMDDr. Umbehr will be arguing in opposition, against a single-payer system.




Moderator: Dr. Kamal Gursahani

Associate Professor of Surgery
Director of Operations, Emergency Department
Fellow, Bander Center of Medical Ethics


BRI SLU student leaders debate group
Dr. Gursahani, Dr. Weisbart, Dr. Umbehr and members of the BRI-SLU chapter

POST-EVENT SUMMARY: Forty-three medical students from SLU and Washington University at St. Louis (SLU’s college for public health and social justice), local physicians, and members of the general public showed up on a Friday night to watch SLU’s debate over the pros and cons of single payer healthcare, featuring a physician entrepreneur who believes in individual and direct payments for healthcare, Dr. Josh Umbehr of AtlasMD, and a physician expert in large, centralized planning, Dr. Ed Weisbart.

BRI SLU single payer debate Weisbart Umbehr
Dr. Ed Weisbart and Dr. Josh Umbehr and all our wonderful sponsor!

The debate started out calm as Dr. Weisbart delivered his well-organized powerpoint presentation on single payer benefits. Dr. Umbehr responded quickly by pointing out the inherent flaws in central planning and the  fallacies in logic that single payer supporters use. As the debate progressed, intensity grew, getting the whole audience involved, and we ran out of time for all attendees’ questions. Pre- and post-debate voting showed a shift in opinion from supporting single payer to opposing it.

“It was highly informative. Both speakers were very well prepared and presented information that was new to me. The free market and single payer approaches both have the same goals in mind for the health care system but use very different means to achieve those goals. In the end, I believe Dr. Josh offered a free market system that was entirely novel to many of the listeners and thus intrigued the many students who intend to practice primary care medicine in the future.” ~Debate attendee, name withheld

“I really liked hearing … certain aspects of the debate; I had heard over and over that infant mortality rate was high in the US, but was unaware the US used a broader definition than other countries reporting the same statistic. However, I felt like Dr Josh didn’t honestly go debate against a “single payer” system, but mostly attacked the idea of a socialist medical program instead.” ~Debate attendee

BRI SLU debate Weisbart
Dr. Ed Weisbart addresses attendees at SLU’s debate on single payer healthcare.

After the debate, Dr. Umbehr joined most of the BRI officers for dinner at Mangia Italiano. The new officers took the opportunity to ask more questions and discuss their plans for the coming year.

“Thanks for arranging a great debate. I am really interested in health care policy and what our options as a country are, since things are changing so much right now. I feel that as a future physician it is my responsibility to be educated on the topic, so these lectures and the debate were extremely interesting. I think the quality of the debaters was phenomenal and I learned a lot about the different options and thought processes out there. I would love to learn even more and delve even deeper into the options presented.” ~Debate attendee

Official voting
Pre-debate (43 responses): 55.8% agree with the resolution, but only 39% thought the USA should have single payer healthcare.
Post-debate (25 responses): 48% agree with the resolution, and 32% think the USA should have single payer.
The debate resolution opposition (free market) won the debate based on these voting statistics.


January 8, 2016
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Shawn Moore
(314) 623-8829


Learning Resource Center, LRC A Auditorium
Schwitalla Hall, 1402 S Grand Blvd
St Louis, MO 63104 United States
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