A bill that would provide universal health care coverage for all Pennsylvanians is being considered in the PA Legislature, and a new study about the plan says it would be just as healthy for the commonwealth's economy as its citizens.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of 2011 there were well over one million Pennsylvanians with no health insurance. Nearly a quarter million of the uninsured are children. Step aside, cliche right-wing talking points, because over 800,000 of them are in families with at least one person employed full-time. And step aside, racist right-wing talking points, because over 900,000 of them are white. In today's world, America is starkly alone among so-called developed nations for not having a universal health care system that covers everyone equally. If you're thinking we don't cover everyone because it saves us money, think again, because the average country with a universal system has less than half the per-patient cost of what we spend. There's both a moral and economic imperative here.
Now, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to catch up with the rest of the world and establish our own universal health care system. State Senator Jim Ferlo (38th District - Allegheny, Armstrong & Westmoreland counties) and state Representative Pamela DeLissio (194th District - Montgomery & Philadelphia counties) have announced their intention to reintroduce the Family and Business Health Care Security Act, which has been considered in the past in the PA Senate as SB 400 and in the PA House as HB 1660, to the PA Legislature in this session.
- Quality medical, dental, vision, and mental health care for every Pennsylvanian.
- Establishment of an efficient Health Care Trust owned and controlled by the people of Pennsylvania as the single payer for health care services, thus eliminating the existing wasteful and inefficient system of multiple third party payers.
- Relieving employers from the responsibility of selecting, pricing, and administering health insurance.
- Elimination of all traditional health insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.
- Full funding of prescription drugs while leveraging the buying power of 12 million Pennsylvanians to lower costs.
- Support for the swift transition to a secure electronic medical record system to reduce costs and errors.
- Full funding for substance abuse treatment.
- A centralized data collection and analysis approach that will identify physicians and hospitals with patterns of preventable errors leading to prompt remedial action designed to eliminate future occurrences.
- Preservation of the private practice of medicine and the right of the patient to choose their doctor and hospital.
- Assuring that every Pennsylvanian in need of long term care can qualify for assistance without having to spend themselves into poverty.
- Sparing Pennsylvanians forever the humiliation of personal bankruptcy due to family health care expenses.
By reducing administrative costs and anti-competitive market practices, [the Family and Business Health Care Security Act] could save $33 billion in 2014, almost 23% of existing medical spending. These savings would allow the expansion of coverage to all Pennsylvania residents while still saving over $17 billion, or $1,335 per person.Healthcare4AllPA also used the research to create this chart of which sectors projected health care savings in PA would come from if this bill became law:
[The Family and Business Health Care Security Act] would be funded by a 10% payroll tax paid by employers and a 3% levy on income paid by recipients. The shift from insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses to taxes linked with income would lower health care spending for over 80% of Pennsylvanians.
Businesses and local governments would also benefit, saving on payroll costs as well as the premiums paid to cover the "administrative costs" associated with private health insurance. By lowering payroll costs, [the Family and Business Health Care Security Act] would make Pennsylvania businesses more competitive, producing an additional 120,000 – 200,000 new jobs.
Here is our collective chance as a state to finally catch up with the rest of the world and have a universal health care system that provides for everyone. It may seem greatly improbable or too-good-to-be-true in the abstract, but that is only true if we allow it to be. There's no doubt it seemed that way in other countries before reforms happened there. I urge all my fellow Pennsylvanians to contact your state legislators and tell them to support the Family and Business Health Care Security Act and universal health care for PA, with emphasis on the duel imperative of morality and economics. They take calls from constituents seriously. You can look them up and find their contact information here.