Steffie Woolhandler

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Medical bankruptcy paper

In 2005, Senator Elizabeth Warren – then a professor – published an academic paper along with David Himmelstein, Deborah Thorne and Steffie Woolhandler, in the journal Health Affairs that made a very bold claim: Over 40 percent of all U.S. bankruptcies came as the result of medical problems suffered by the bankrupt.

Four years later, in 2009, they published an update to that figure – and it looked much, much worse. Medical bills were actually responsible for more than 62 percent of all American bankruptcy filings.

Needless to say, it was a very eye-catching statistic. Arguably, that was the point: Dr. Woolhandler and Dr. Himmelstein are physicians, public health researchers at Hunter College and advocates of a single-payer healthcare system. Ms. Thorne is a sociologist who studies bankruptcy. At the time, Warren was a Harvard law professor with a longtime issue in social justice and a professed desire to throw data at questions in the social sciences instead of speculation.[1]

Alliance for Radical Change

In 1975 Stanford University Alliance for Radical Change members included Stephanie Woolhandler, Don Zweig.[2]

Book Reviewer, The Guardian, 1987

Steffie Woolhandler and David U. Himmelstein were book reviewers in the "Fall Supplement", The Guardian, November 5, 1986 issue, of "Crisis, Health and Medicine: A Social Critique", by Vincente Navarro, Tavistock Publications, 1986. Navarro is a well-known Castroite radical.

The byline description for both Woolhandler and Himmelstein was as follows:

  • David U. Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler edited Monthly Review's July-August special issue on "Capitalism, Science and Technology." Both practice medicine at Cambridge City Hospital. They teach at Harvard (University) and Boston (University) Universities respectively.

"Single payer" book

A book, "Caring for the Uninsured and Underinsured A Better-Quality Alternative: Single-Payer National Health System Reform" was released in 1994 by the Physicians for a National Health Program Quality of Care Working Group, Contributors included;

Gordon Schiff; Andrew Bindman; Troyen Brennan; Thomas Bodenheimer; Carolyn Clancy; Oliver Fein; Ida Hellander; David Himmelstein; Linda Rae Murray; T. Donald Rucker; Ron Sable; Jeffrey Scavron; Ronald Shansky; Ellen Shaffer; David Slobodkin; Steve Tarzynski; Steffie Woolhandler; Quentin Young.

Socialist Scholars Conference 2000

In 2000, the eighteenth annual Socialist Scholars Conference took place in New York before about 1,800 participants from more than a dozen countries. The Conference theme was “Rockin’ the Boat: Building Coalitions for a New Century,”

The Friday plenary attracted an audience of hundreds, hearing the large New York City Labor Chorus (with DSA members) sing classic union songs, followed by DSA National Director Horace Small who chaired the meeting with Robin D. G. Kelley, NYU historian and cultural critic, and Steffi Woolhandler, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, and Harvard Medical School professor, on the promise of building coalitions around health care[3].

She cited the single-payer health care as probably the only issue in politics where the Left and the American people are in agreement.

Open letter to Andy Stern

On May 1 2008, Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein signed an open letter to SEIU president Andy Stern in protest at SEIU moves force its local United Healthcare Workers into trusteeship.

"We are writing to express our deep concern about SEIU's threatened trusteeship over its third largest local, United Healthcare Workers (UHW). We believe that there must always be room within organized labor for legitimate and principled dissent, if our movement is to survive and grow. Putting UHW under trusteeship would send a very troubling message and be viewed, by many, as a sign that internal democracy is not valued or tolerated within SEIU. In our view, this would have negative consequences for the workers directly affected, the SEIU itself, and the labor movement as a whole. We strongly urge you to avoid such a tragedy."

Physicians for a National Health Program

In 2009 Steffie Woolhandler M.D., M.P.H. was listed as Secretary for Physicians for a National Health Program.[4]



  1. [1]
  2. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 167, Issue 63, 21 May 1975]
  4. Physicians for a National Health Program website: Board of Directors (accessed on Oct. 19, 2009)