Rallying for a single-payer plan

    A hearing on a state-level single-payer plan is set for the fall.

    Advocates for a publicly funded state health plan rallied at the Capitol in Harrisburg today. The crowd came to support legislation that proposes a new 3 percent tax. Businesses and individuals would pay into a health care trust fund, and the government would use that money to pay for healthcare across the Commonwealth.

    Listen:

    [audio:090611terally.mp3]

    The single-payer idea is not a big part of the budget or health reform debate in Harrisburg right now. But supporters say the movement is making progress. Chuck Pennacchio leads Healthcare for All Pennsylvania.

    Pennacchio: Everyone, everyone to a person said we could never get state Senator Don White, who is the gatekeeper for health care in the state senate to give us a hearing. Don White is giving us a hearing before Banking and Insurance in the fall.

    A crowd gathered on the stairs at the capitol building in Harrisburg Thursday in support of the legislation.
    A crowd gathered on the stairs at the capitol building in Harrisburg Thursday in support of the legislation.
    A spokesman for the Indiana County Republican says proponents and critics will be invited to debate the single-payer idea. But he says the senator is not convinced that a single-payer plan is a workable solution to expand healthcare access in Pennsylvania.

    Advocates say their idea is slowly winning over business owners and Republicans.

    Mike Stout owns a print shop near Pittsburgh. He provides health care benefits to his employees but expects to pay 20 or 30 percent more this year. He says a state-level, single payer plan makes better business sense.

    Stout: It’s more cost effective and you get better care. Thirty percent of the health care dollar in the United States and the state Pennsylvania goes toward administrative fees. Under single-payer it will be less than 5 percent.

    Stout says health care should not be entrusted to for-profit companies, and he and other single-payer advocates want to eliminate the private health insurance industry.

    Stout says he’s not discouraged that Pennsylvania lawmakers are not seriously debating a single-payer plan this legislative session.

    Stout: We’re gonna to keep coming back here with more and more people until these legislators start listening to us just like they listen to the lobbyists that give them all their gifts and campaign contributions. We’re going to come back here over and over until we have health care for all.

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