Legislators want health insurance lobbyists to study Medicare for All

The Massachusetts legislature held a hearing today on Medicare for All in Massachusetts. Included in the hearing agenda was H.1163, a bill that has been described as a direct threat to the single-payer health care movement.

“We are disappointed that Rep. Hogan is advocating for a bill that would put those who oppose single payer in charge of studying single-payer. Concerns about this bill were raised months ago by advocates, and Rep. Hogan failed to address those concerns in her testimony today,” said Matt Miller, co-founder of Act on Mass. “It is disingenuous for Rep. Hogan to testify that the bill will create ‘the best single payer commision possible’ that contains ‘a wide group of stakeholders.’ This commission is stacked with opponents of single payer and doesn’t reserve a seat for representatives of nurses, healthcare workers or single-payer advocates.” he continued.

The bill, filed by Rep. Kate Hogan of Stow, would form a commission to study the implementation of single-payer health care in the Commonwealth. However, the commission would be largely made up of representatives of the health insurance industry, as well as appointees of the Baker administration and high-ranking legislators. Eleven out of the eighteen (61%) members of the commission would be appointed by or appointees of Republican Charlie Baker, appointed by GOP members of the legislature, or are representatives of health care industry groups.

Advocates and single-payer experts have been sharply critical of the bill. Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said in February that the commission is almost certain to reach conclusions that are “hostile” to single-payer. Mass-Care, a single-payer advocacy group, issued a statement asking why the commission would not include representation from workers or low-income residents of Massachusetts.

Representative Hogan testified in favor of the bill today, saying a full study of the costs of implementing a single payer system in MA had never been conducted before, and that she wanted to see a favorable report on this bill, so that a commission with a “wide group of stakeholders” could conduct the study on single-payer.

Despite Rep. Hogan’s assertion to the contrary, there has been a study of the costs of implementing Medicare for all, single payer healthcare in Massachusetts, by Gerald Friendman of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which found that the cost savings would exceed $21 billion per year.

Single-payer advocates are pushing a different bill, filed by Representatives Lindsay Sabadosa and Denise Garlick, that would establish a single-payer system in Massachusetts. Representative Hogan has not co-sponsored the bill.