Single-payer funders seek support on key committee

As members of Congress schedule a Tuesday hearing on health care reforms, Massachusetts advocates are watching to see if a Wednesday deadline will advance single-payer legislation at the state level.

The Health Care Funding Committee has until Wednesday to act on the bills it received through the end of February, deciding whether individual bills will progress through the legislative process or hit deadlock. A third option that legislators often exercise on controversial bills is an extension order that gives a committee more time to report on particular bills, although time is running out for House action and of the Senate. Formal legislative sessions end this year on July 31, the de facto deadline for advancing major bills.

The list of more than 270 bills remaining before the committee includes “Medicare for All” bills (S 766, H 1267) that would eliminate co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance and create a state trust fund to pay for Massachusetts health care. residents and non-residents who work here at least 20 hours a week.

Introduced by Sen. Jamie Eldridge, Rep. Denise Garlick and Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, the bills propose to fund the trust with new taxes, which supporters say would replace the large sums currently being spent on bonuses and disbursements. costs.

As the reporting deadline nears, Mass-Care, the advocacy group for single-payer health care in Massachusetts, encouraged its supporters to call committee chairs, Senator Cindy Friedman and Rep. John Lawn, and ask them to report favorably on the bill. .

“A good 40% of the legislature co-sponsors the bill,” the group said in an email, noting that committee chairs have the final say on a bill’s progress. “Although we are still short of a majority, we believe the strong support for Medicare for All – among both lawmakers, and even more so among Commonwealth residents – warrants serious consideration of this legislation.”

Single-payer bills have been introduced for years, and while the number of lawmakers signing on to support them has grown over time, they haven’t gained enough ground to make it onto leaders’ priority lists. legislative.

Democrats wield supermajorities in every branch, and the state’s 2021 Democratic Party platform includes a line saying Democrats will fight for “high-quality, accessible health care for all through a program sponsored by single-payer government, like Medicare, because health care is a human right.”

For the past decade, the Health Care Funding Committee has killed Medicare for All bills almost every session by including them in study orders. Some of these orders came after several time extensions. In 2020, single-payer bills and other legislation before the committee died amid a row between the House and Senate over extensions in the committee.

This year’s bills have 74 co-sponsors, including 16 from the 40-seat Senate and 58 from the 160-seat House. Mass-Care said 12 of the 20 members of the Health Care Financing Committee had signed the bill. The presidents, Democrats Friedman of Arlington and Lawn of Watertown, are not among them.

Lawn and Friedman asked supporters about the details of the bill during a hearing in October, in which representatives of the insurance industry testified in opposition and funders briefed lawmakers on the difficulties. faced when trying to access and pay for health care.

At the federal level, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform has scheduled a hearing Tuesday “examining pathways to universal health coverage.” The committee, chaired by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, plans to assess how lack of insurance and underinsurance affect health outcomes and evaluate reforms such as health insurance legislation. disease for all.

The 9 a.m. hearing will be broadcast live.

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