Sabadosa to lead charge for single-payer in House

  • Lindsay Sabadosa, state representative-elect for the 1st Hampshire District. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Lindsay Sabadosa takes calls while she and her campaign intern, Laura Britton work on scheduling, and thanking supporters at Sabadosa's office in Northampton the day after the elections.

Staff Writer
Published: 12/30/2018 11:16:52 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Lindsay Sabadosa made Medicare for All a central part of her successful campaign for the 1st Hampshire House seat this year.

Now, the Northampton lawmaker-elect is set to become the lead House sponsor of the long-introduced legislation that could bring a single-payer health system to the Bay State.

“I really want to see this pass,” said Sabadosa. “I want to do the work.”

Medicare for All and single-payer health care are used interchangeably by single-payer health care advocates to describe a system under which the government serves as the health insurer for all residents.

Sabadosa said that when she was at lunch with state Rep. Denise Garlick, D-Needham, the longtime lead sponsor of the Medicare for All bill, Garlick asked her if she wanted to become the lead sponsor.

Her reply: “Please don’t joke about that.”

But Garlick wasn’t joking, and Sabadosa agreed to become lead sponsor of the bill that has been introduced in the House for more than 20 years. Sabadosa will introduce it prior to the Jan. 18 deadline for introducing legislation in the House for the coming two-year legislative session.

Sabadosa said she and Garlick will be working together to advocate for the bill, which had 44 sponsors in the last session and was labeled Bill H2987.

“Oh, absolutely,” Sabdosa said when asked whether the bill would have more sponsors this session.

She expects that many of the 24 new representatives in the House will be signing on.

Sabadosa said the bill will have some revisions before she reintroduces it. She also said she has been sitting down with stakeholders like hospitals and health care centers to get their input.

“There’s just so much that goes into health care,” Sabadosa said.

The bill has never received a vote on the House floor, and Sabadosa does not expect to see one this legislative session either, although she said that were it to come to the floor, she believes a majority of votes could be found for it.

“This is about creating a five-year strategy,” Sabadosa said.

That strategy will involve legislators and activists working together, she said.

“We’re going to need an enormous grassroots effort,” she said.

Part of the strategy is the creation of a Medicare for All Caucus, which will involve members of the House, Senate, and the activist community. Sabadosa will be co-chairing the caucus in the House with Rep. Tami Gouveia, D-Acton, the representative-elect from the 14th Middlesex District.

“I have worked in coalitions throughout my career in public health social work and appreciate the ability of coalitions to build power and solve problems,” said Gouveia, via text.

In the Senate, meanwhile, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, will be co-chairing the caucus with Jo Comerford of Northampton, the Democratic senator-elect for the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District.

Asked her thoughts about having two Northampton people in leadership positions in the Medicare for All fight, Sabadosa noted the longtime history of advocacy for the issue in the area. She said that when she was in Historic Northampton and looking at the recently donated button collection of the late local activist Arky Markham, she saw many buttons on Medicare for All.

“I just feel very proud to carry on that tradition, more than anything,” she said.

“We’re pretty thrilled that leadership is coming from western Massachusetts,” said Deborah Levenson, co-convenor of Western Mass. Medicare for All.

Levenson praised both Comerford and Sabadosa, and noted their dedication to working with outside groups.

“That is what’s going to get the job done,” she said.

Levenson also said she was happy to see Sabadosa made lead sponsor, while also praising Garlick, and said she felt that there was a good team in place in both chambers working on the bill.

Additionally, Levenson noted the grassroots work that has been done in western Massachusetts on the issue, including this year’s non-binding public policy ballot questions that gauged support for single-payer in House districts in the western part of the state, and passed overwhelmingly.

“We’re almost sort of a model,” said Levenson.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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