Lead Sponsors: Senator Jamie Eldridge & Representative Jason Lewis
Summary: “An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts” would create a single-payer health care system for Massachusetts, guaranteeing first rate health care coverage for every resident of the state, while saving money for state and local government, businesses, and residents.
Why This Matters: Massachusetts cannot afford to extend good health coverage to all residents under the current health insurance system, and rising health care costs are destroying state, municipal, business, and household budgets. Massachusetts has the highest per capita health care costs in the country and every year costs go higher and higher. Moving to a single-payer system would help control health care costs in the long-term while ensuring that every citizen has a right to quality, affordable health care.
A single payer system would save an estimated 15.75% of our current spending on health care, take the burden of rising health care costs off of small businesses, municipalities and families, eliminate medical debt and medical bankruptcy, and guarantee access to quality, affordable health care as a right for all residents of the Commonwealth. Access to health care is not currently a right in Massachusetts.
Every other country in the world that has achieved universal coverage and controlled costs has relied on a single-payer system to get there. It is our belief that a single-payer system will best achieve the health care reform goals that many of us share, from improving coverage for families that already have coverage, to reducing health care costs, and simplifying the health care delivery system.
What this Bill Would Do: This bill would create a ‘single payer’ health care system for Massachusetts: a universal public insurance plan covering all medically necessary care. This plan would function for residents under 65 much the way Medicare does for residents 65 and older, but without premiums or copayments.
The bill would replace current employer and employee premium payments with an employer and employee payroll tax. The total payroll tax would be 10% – the same as current average spending on health insurance – and would default to 7.5% for employers and 2.5% for employees, although employers could choose to pay for part or all of employees’ portion of the payroll tax, and collective bargaining agreements would be recognized.
Because payroll taxes primarily impact low- and medium-income wage earners, a 12.5% tax on unearned income would be imposed, reversing large cuts to state taxes on dividends and interest passed between 1998 and 2002. Lastly, all current state spending on health care would be consolidated, and the state would seek to have federal funds – such as those paid for Medicaid and Medicare recipients – paid directly to the state’s single payer fund by applying for federal waivers.