The pitch for a PA single-payer system

    Advocates for a single-payer health care system got a long-awaited hearing at the Pennsylvania Capitol Wednesday. WHYY reports on the bid to side-step the private insurance industry and create a new way to pay for health care across the Commonwealth.

    Advocates for a single-payer health care system got a long-awaited hearing at the Pennsylvania Capitol Wednesday. WHYY reports on the bid to side-step the private insurance industry and create a new way to pay for health care across the Commonwealth.
    (Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/David Coleman)

    Listen:

    [audio:091216tesingle.mp3]

    Supporters want to establish a government-run health care trust fund. They say everyone in Pennsylvania could get their care paid for, if the state collected a 3 percent income tax from individuals, and a 10 percent payroll tax from business. Chuck Pennacchio leads Healthcare for All Pennsylvania.

    Pennacchio: This is the time now to shift the discussion over to the state level, this is really about federalism, it’s about getting the states the opportunity to model a doable plan, and single-payer Senate Bill 400 is the ultimate answer.

    Groups representing Pennsylvania doctors, the insurance industry and small business oppose the plan. Kevin Shivers is the Pennsylvania director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

    Shivers: The single payer health care system doesn’t do what needs to be done about cost.

    Senate Banking Committee Chair, Republican Don White, warned that any fundamental changes at the state level would likely be made irrelevant by coming national reforms. Proponents of the single payer system have been trying to move a bill ahead for several years.

    Kevin Shivers: Creating a new government bureaucracy, that’s going to include benefit plans that are clearly politicized because they are going to be created by the government, isn’t actually going to be reducing the cost, in fact we think, like every other program run by the government, it’s just going to balloon and cost more in the future.

    Single-payer supporters say putting the government in charge of all health care expenses in Pennsylvania would save millions of dollars in insurance administration costs.

    Pittsburgh state Senator Jim Ferlo sponsored the legislation. He says it was a coup to get the bill considered before the Republican-controlled Senate Banking committee.

    Ferlo: Even those who were may be not sympathetic to a single-payer, Medicare for All, plan recognize the tremendous support this legislation has around the state and want to at least be respectful to their constituents who do support it. Yes it’s a movement in progress, it’s a works in progress.

    Senator Don White said the hearing was only a fact-finding mission noted that the political realities in Pennsylvania make a single-payer system a tough sell.

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