East Falls Now Article: Single Payer is the Cure

If ever there was a situation that emphasized the need to disconnect health care from employment, it is right now. When COVID-19 created layoffs and terminations of employment for thousands of citizens, it also took away their health insurance. Many of our family, friends, and neighbors were put in jeopardy because their health insurance was tied to their employment situation.

Healthcare is a right and not a privilege. How can it be otherwise? To better care for our citizens, I will be introducing my single payer health care bill. This is the 3rd time I am introducing the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan (PHCP). The co-sponsorship memo will be circulated in December with an introduction of the legislation after the first of the year. I have reserved bill number HB2144.

The PHCP is the proverbial ‘cure’ for this situation. The PHCP uses a single payer plan to provide universal health coverage (UHC).

According to the World Health Organization, “UHC means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.”

What a concept - a system to ensure that citizens are not going financially bankrupt to stay healthy.

UHC is offered by 32 industrialized nations with the earliest adoption in 1912 by Norway and the latest in 1995 by Israel.

There are a variety of ways to offer UHC – single payer, two tier and insurance mandate.

I propose that single payer is the most effective way to deliver UHC for Pennsylvanians.

Per Physicians for a National Health Program “Single-payer national health insurance, also known as “Medicare for all,” is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health care financing, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands.”

Our current system does not place citizens/patients first. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 was an exciting expansion in health coverage. However, I had my doubts, as the ACA was an insurance driven product. An expansion of health insurance does not fully expand access to health care as the past 10 years has demonstrated.

I challenge anyone to find someone in their life whose hasn’t experienced challenges, and at times significant ones, navigating their own insurance provider to access care.

This problem affects us all. I have heard from 20- and 30-year-old constituents regarding their challenges with health coverage – gaps in insurance when changing employers, trusted providers no longer in a network, delays in coverage after starting a new job and the out-of-pocket costs of premiums, deductibles, and co-pays to name a few concerns.

On the other end of the age spectrum, I hear from constituents who are grateful to be eligible for Medicare. Simply to have healthcare that is more predictable although now less than universal due to the introduction of Medicare managed care plans.

Single payer legislation has been introduced 6 times in the PA House since 2005 and I have personally introduced this legislation 2 times previously.

Single payer coverage would be paid for by a tax on employers of 10% of payroll and a tax on individuals of 3% of income. In most situations this will provide savings and predictability for employers and individuals.

Benefits of single payer coverage include: the ability for employees to seek other employment, regardless of health coverage; and the elimination of premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.

Currently, if you wake up one morning and learn you have a catastrophic illness, as I did in 2016 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, your life changes and the unknown variables in life increase exponentially. Those unknown variables include cost and whether you will have the ability to continue to work during treatment. No one should have to worry about these variables when they are fighting a life-threatening illness.

Lowering the cost of healthcare has beneficial ripple effects. It will have an impact on the cost of vehicle and liability insurance and on worker’s compensation as those insurance costs are influenced by the cost of medical care.

Healthcare should not require an advanced degree, or any degree to access care. A healthy population literally pays dividends. If 32 other industrialized nations could make this a reality for their citizens than we can too.

As always, your thoughts and experiences on this topic are most welcome.  Please contact me at RepDeLissio@pahouse.net or 215-482-8726.