Guest columnist Jon Weissman: Legislature needs to move on ‘Medicare for All’

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Published: 8/23/2023 6:05:51 PM
Modified: 8/23/2023 6:05:41 PM

I am grateful for Merriam Ansara’s letter to the Gazette (“Grateful for hospital alliance, more work to do,” Gazette, July 17). As chair of the board of Mass-Care: the Massachusetts Campaign for Single Payer Health Care, I can “explain … the details of how it would work and how it actually would be costing the taxpayers less.”

Reps. Lindsay Sabadosa and Denise Garlick and Sen. Jamie Eldridge have filed An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts (H.1239 & S.744). Quoting from last Election Day’s Public Policy Question, it would create a single-payer system of universal health care that provides all Massachusetts residents with comprehensive health care coverage, including the freedom to choose doctors and other health care professionals, facilities, and services, and eliminates the role of insurance companies in health care by creating an insurance trust fund that is publicly administered.

The ballot question won handily in six western Massachusetts districts and 14 more across the state. The 20-district total vote was 181,630 Yes to 92,128 No — two out of three voters. And over the 58 times we’ve run the ballot question since Mass-Care was founded in 1995, the average Yes vote has been 68.4%.

In western Mass., in 2018 and 2022, we ran the question 12 times, winning each time, averaging 68.5% Yes.

Given this broad mandate, the Legislature should finally give the bill proper attention and pass it out of committee rather than allowing it to die without a full vote of the Legislature. For that to happen, we need everyone to prioritize this reform. We are fortunate that 67% of the western Mass. delegation sponsors the legislation, 70% of our reps and 57% of our senators. But right now, only 29% of the state’s reps and 43% of the senators sponsor it.

The legislation replaces the current expensive, complicated multi-insurance industry with the Massachusetts Health Care Trust. The trust is governed by a board of trustees with 29 members, including patients, medical experts, and health care advocates, including eight elected by Governor’s Council district.

We all get the care we need. With no out-of-pocket cost, we can access care without worrying about the ability to pay.

Without health insurance companies imposing “provider networks,” we pick the practitioners and hospitals of our choice.

Instead of different coverage levels and tiers of “eligible services” for individuals depending on their plan, all necessary care is covered under one comprehensive plan, including hospital care, outpatient care, reproductive care, dental, hearing, eye, and long-term care.

The problems and labor strife associated with employer-based health insurance evaporate.

The Massachusetts Health Care Trust Fund is financed with current funding from federal and state government (Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs) plus four new taxes that replace and are much lower than current insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket payments. Each tax has a $20,000 exemption.

Employers will pay 7.5% of payroll (8% if employing 100 or more).

Employees will pay a 2.5% tax on wages and salaries. Employers could agree to pay this tax without it being income to employees.

The self-employed will pay 10% of income.

Unearned income will be taxed at 10%.

Research consistently shows that a single-payer health care financing system produces substantial savings in money and lives. All current payers of health care costs save: state and municipal government, businesses, families and individuals. According to UMass Economics Professor Gerald Friedman, the proposed Massachusetts Health Care Trust Fund would save about one-third of our current spending on health care in Massachusetts ($34 billion). More about the bill is at and

So, let’s grab that savings, the fairness and the simplicity, and the universal access to care!

Jon Weissman is chairperson of Mass-Care: the Massachusetts Campaign for Single Payer Health Care and the Western Mass. Area Labor Federation Health Care Committee. He lives in Granby.


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