You didn’t misread that title – SB400, the bill in the PA State Senate for statewide single payer health care, is getting some hearings because of Republican State Senator Don White. Here in Pennsylvania, single payer isn’t a partisan issue. We’ve got bipartisan bills in the Senate and House with Governor Rendell’s pledge to sign them if they pass.
In the words of HealthCare4AllPA:
The hearing will take place on December 16, from 9:00-10:30 AM in room 8E-A East Wing, located on the lower level of the Capitol building. Those in support of SB400 will have 45 minutes to present their information and arguments, and those opposed will also have 45 minutes.
This is a vitally important step forward, and one of the only times in history that a state-based single payer bill has been granted a senate committee hearing.
Whether you live in Pennsylvania or not, this is great news for progressives. Follow me below the fold to find out more and see how you can help.
This bill by itself, and especially this hearing, is a huge step forward for universal health care coverage. In Canada, the province of Saskatchewan had a single payer system before the rest of the nation did, and there’s no reason why that couldn’t happen in America. Even while only Pennsylvania has single payer, that still means thousands of less deaths and people suffering because of lack of health care coverage.
Stephanie Singer of the Philadelphia 8th Ward Democratic Executive Committee explains the bill, called the Pennsylvania Family and Business Health Security Act, this way:
What it means politically: This is a big deal. People “in the know” have been saying that there would never be hearings on this bill. But Republican PA Senator Don White has decided to hold hearings, because he sees how the legislation would help his own family and his constituents in rural western Pennsylvania.
What it means for Philadelphia: The legislation would save the city government hundreds of millions of dollars annually, helping us balance our budget. Poor neighborhoods would get medical offices and the jobs they bring. No more copays, no deductibles, no referrals. Psychological and dental services are covered. Malpractice insurance awards would be smaller (since they wouldn’t have to cover future medical expenses). Everyone would be able to get medical care.
What it means for the US: I support Obama’s health care package, though I am disappointed in the watering-down of the public option and appalled by the abortion restrictions. But we need individual states to experiment so that we can figure out what will work best in America. Instituting a government funded, privately provided system in PA would provide a model for the whole country.
Who pays? The legislation calls for a 10% payroll tax and a 3% income tax. This is about the same as the amount my coworkers, my employer and I will pay for our health care next year. Ask your HR people how much you and your employer spend (and don’t forget to include copays and deductibles, which would disappear under the legislation).
You can also read about the bills at HealthCare4AllPA’s website, where there is a plethora of information regarding this legislation.
So what can you do to help this bill move forward? This is especially important if you live in Pennsylvania, but you can still help out a great deal if you live elsewhere.
1. Contact the members of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, which will hold the hearing, to tell them that you support this bill. Stephanie Singer said:
Thank Sen. Farnese for co-sponsoring the legislation.
Tell Sen. Tony Williams to stop stalling a bill that would bring jobs and health care to his district.
Ask Sen. Tartaglione to support the legislation.
Ask Sen. Stack to push this bill.
Call others on the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee to express your views.
2. Let the media know about this. This is big news! By visiting this link, you can send a message to dozens of newspapers, TV stations, and other media outlets (specified to where you live, if you want) at once.
3. If you live in Pennsylvania, find you state senator and state representative (there’s a bill for single payer in both the PA Senate and House!) using that same nifty website. Check out here if they’re a supporter (here for the House and here for the Senate) – if they are, thank them and if not, tell them they should be.
4. If you’re able to, attend the hearing. It’s important to show that there’s significant support for this. Once again, the information for that is:
he hearing will take place on December 16, from 9:00-10:30 AM in room 8E-A East Wing, located on the lower level of the Capitol building. Those in support of SB400 will have 45 minutes to present their information and arguments, and those opposed will also have 45 minutes.
5. Finally, everyone here should thank Republican State Senator Don White for moving this legislation forward! This is what real bipartisanship looks like – and it looks gooooood.
Thanks for your time and effort. Together, we can do this!