Single-payer healthcare bill to be introduced in Michigan House

The bill faces a difficult path forward as most Republicans and many centrist Democrats don’t want to dismantle the private insurance industry

Mar 23, 2022 at 4:00 pm
click to enlarge A large group of people gather for the first-ever Medicare For All Rally led by Bernie Sanders in downtown Chicago in 2019. - Shutterstock
Shutterstock
A large group of people gather for the first-ever Medicare For All Rally led by Bernie Sanders in downtown Chicago in 2019.

A soon-to-be-introduced bill in the Michigan House proposes a government-run, single-payer health care system that would cover dental, mental health, vision, and all other physical needs.

The bill, co-signed by 12 representatives, was drafted by Democratic floor leader Yousef Rabhi, who on Wednesday announced the proposal for a MiCare at a State Capitol press conference.

“Too many families have gone destitute trying to pay for health care for loved ones, and too many people frankly, have died,” Rabhi said, noting that about 1,000 people in Michigan die every year because they don’t have health care. “That is an unacceptable reality in the wealthiest nation on the planet and in the history of humankind.”

The plan wouldn’t go into effect until voters approved a funding mechanism. About 500,000 Michiganders, including 80,000 children, are uninsured, Rabhi said.

He claims the plan would save about $20 billion and would further cut residents’ expenses because they would no longer have to pay for deductibles, co-pay, or co-insurance out of pocket. The plan is “pro-business,” Rabhi said, because it frees companies from the burden of paying for their employees’ healthcare. In 2020, businesses contributed an average of about $5,200 for individuals and over $15,000 for families.

A state-run insurer’s administration would add up to 3% in costs annually, while executive salaries, profits, and other costs at private insurers can add up to 18% to customers’ collective bills, Rabhi said.

“We are already paying way too much out of our pocket to insurance company executives and their profits,” he said, adding that the profit motive’s elimination would also address the insurance companies’ incentive to deny necessary services.

However, the bill faces a difficult-if-not-impossible path forward as most Republicans and many centrist Democrats don’t want to dismantle the private insurance industry. They argue that single-payer would cause taxes to spike and would ultimately cost residents more while slowing down the delivery of health services. A similar 2018 Rabhi-authored bill didn’t move in the House.

Polling shows the single-payer concept gaining in popularity. Pew Research in 2020 found 63% of respondents in favor of a universal system, up from 59% the previous year. Though several states, like New York and California, have come close to passing legislation, the insurance industry and some union allies in legislatures have derailed the efforts. A state single-payer system would also require some form of federal approval, making it even more difficult to be implemented.

But Rabhi said he would continue pushing: “People should not die because they can’t afford their insurance.”

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