Single-Payer Health Care: Debate on Smart Talk

This morning (October 2, 2017), the local public radio station in Harrisburg, PA aired a program on universal health care, often called single-payer health care or Improved Medicare for All.  They presented a debate between insurance industry members, legislators, and advocates for single-payer health care.

Three women holding up posters that say

Advocating for Medicare for All – a universal, single-payer healthcare program. Photo Courtesy of National Nurses United.

The radio clip that I’m embedding below discusses HB 1688, the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan.  This bill was reintroduced in the PA House of Representatives on Friday, September 29. It is a state-based universal health coverage for residents of Pennsylvania via a single-payer health care payment program which redirects Medicare and Medicaid funds into a single state funding program where 9 out of 10 people will have reduced healthcare costs and where you get to select your own doctors, healthcare providers, and hospitals. Decisions about treatment are made between the healthcare provider and the client.

The debate on both the state and federal ideas for universal health care follows Rep. Pam Delissio’s summary of her bill. Here is Part 1 of the debate on SmartTalk:

And here is Part 2 of the debate on universal single-payer healthcare:

Rep. Delissio has been the prime sponsor of HB 1688 for the last three sessions of the PA General Assembly. Here’s a 2016 presentation on the Pennsylvania Healthcare Plan by Representative DeLissio on her bill. FYI, the bill number did not change between the current and last session.  So when she talks about HB 1688, she is presenting essentially the same plan (with some minor tweaks).

The Pennsylvania Health Care Plan

Are you frustrated with your insurance plan? Have you, or someone you love, been denied coverage? Well here in Pennsylvania, we have new universal health care bill that has been introduced to improve upon the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and provide access to healthcare for ALL Pennsylvania residents.

The bill — HB 1688 — was introduced into the PA House of Representatives on Monday, November 9, 2015 and sent to the House Health Committee for review and mark-up. The prime sponsor is Rep. Pam DeLissio.  Here’s what she says about this new legislation:

I am introducing legislation to establish the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan. 

Similar legislation has been introduced on at least 3 occasions in the House over the past 7 years.

This legislation sets out a blueprint of bold steps that will result in a healthier citizenry at a lower cost with no co-pays, deductibles or premiums or concern about networks and with the freedom and flexibility to choose their health care providers. 

This legislation is possible because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows states the option to innovate with their own health care plan as long as the proposed plan is more economical and efficient.

This proposed legislation meets that criteria.  This option for the states to innovate becomes available in 2017. 

This legislation improves upon our current health care delivery system in many ways.  First and foremost, it preserves the private practice of medicine and the right of patients to choose their healthcare providers.

Briefly, the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan is a system in which the Pennsylvania Health Care Agency administers a plan that ensures the cost-effective delivery of covered services that range from catastrophic care to wellness and preventative care. 

Health Care Providers would have autonomy over patient care.

The program will be supported by the savings realized from replacing today’s less than efficient, often profit-oriented, multiple payer system with a streamlined Pennsylvania Health Care Trust Fund.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Trust Fund will be funded by a 10% employer tax paid on payroll and a 3% personal income tax.

Using our respective Caucuses as an example, we would save millions in health insurance costs if we were to pay an amount equal to 10% of our payroll.

A benefit to Plan participants is knowing definitively their healthcare cost exposure for the year. 

Graphic display of the details of the PA Health Care Plan as presented by Rep DeLissio to her colleagues in her Co-Sponsorship Memo.

Graphic display of the details of the PA Health Care Plan as presented by Rep DeLissio to her colleagues that she included with her Co-Sponsorship Memo.

And here is a summary HB 1688 (thanks to Healthcare for All PA for reviewing and summarizing the The Pennsylvania Health Care Plan). It…

  • Covers all Pennsylvania residents
  • Gives citizens the freedom and flexibility to choose their health care provider while at the same time preserving the private practice of medicine:
    • Allows free choice of providers, including specialists, without pre-approvals or referral
    • Provides comprehensive coverage
    • Give health care providers autonomy over patient care.
  • Doesn’t exclude or limit coverage due to preexisting conditions
  • Creates cost savings for citizens, businesses, municipalities and school districts:
    • Eliminates co-payments, deductibles, point-of-service and networks
    • Eliminates premiums. They are replaced by a 3% tax on adjusted gross income and Businesses will pay a 10% tax on payroll, (most businesses pay far more for employee health benefits, which will be eliminated under this Plan).
    • Benefits businesses by lowering costs for Worker’s Comp, Vehicle Insurance and Liability Insurance due to removal of medical component.
    • Removes retiree healthcare costs from businesses, municipalities and school districts
    • Creates this cost savings by replacing our less than efficient, confusing multi-payer system with a streamlined single-payer system.
  • Covers all of the following, but is not limited to:
    • All medically necessary inpatient and outpatient care and treatment, both primary and secondary
    • Emergency services
    • Emergency and other medically necessary transport to covered health services
    • Rehabilitation services, including speech, occupational, physical and massage therapy
    • Inpatient and outpatient mental health services and substance abuse treatment
    • Hospice care
    • Prescription drugs and prescribed medical nutrition
    • Vision care, aids and equipment
    • Hearing care, hearing aids and equipment
    • Diagnostic medical tests, including laboratory tests and imaging procedures
    • Medical supplies and prescribed medical equipment
    • Immunizations, preventive care, health maintenance care and screening
    • Dental care
    • Home health care services
    • Chiropractic and massage therapy
    • Complementary and alternative medical procedures that have been shown by the National Institute of Health’s Division of Complementary and Alternative Medicine to be safe and effective for possible inclusion as covered benefits
    • Long-term care for those unable to care for themselves independently, including assisted and skilled care

Currently there are four cosponsors of the bill — Rep Pam DeLissio, Rep W. Curtis Thomas, Rep Patrick J. Harkins, and Rep Mark Rozzi. But we need more co-sponsors and citizen calls for passage of this bill.  So we need your help.

Join us and act now! Contact your state representative now and urge them to support the ‘Pennsylvania Health Care Plan legislation’, this new and innovative health care plan will cover ALL Pennsylvania residents.  Find your representative by clicking on this link. Then call, write, and visit your Representative to ask her/him to cosponsor and support an improvement in our health care system here in Pennsylvania.

Then share this blog with your family, friends, and business colleagues so that they too can call for this change.

Thanks!