Single Payer Health Care Task Force Meeting 12/7/16

Recorded by Marti Hobbes

As a first step in both legislative and grassroots efforts, it is important to show with data the cost savings single-payer would offer to towns, employers and individuals.

To that end, the Single Payer Task Force should collect current data on health care costs from Franklin County towns, usually via the town clerk.

Using this data, we will create a comparison chart similar to one put together by Gerald Friedman in 2012. At that time, the data for Greenfield showed a $4.5 million savings under the single payer system.

Susan W. offered to get Greenfield info. from a Greenfield administrator she knows.

Jackie gave an overview and timeline of the single-payer bill now in Congress. More details can be found at the Mass-Care (statewide single-payer coalition) website.

She notes that the bill has many co-sponsors.

How we can build legislative support for the bill?

Jackie showed an example of letter from Amherst selectboard signed in 2009 sent to Governor Patrick and said a good approach would be to approach select boards of towns and ask them to write letters to legislators.

Another way would be to encourage the passing of resolutions at town meetings.

What is the specific timing of the bill process in Congress?

The bill will be submitted January 14 after which they have two weeks to identify co-sponsors of the bill.

The bill will then get a number and will go to committee (James Welch is currently the co-chair).

Then the committee schedules a hearing.

There’s a companion bill that Jamie Eldridge requested as a strategy–the health care cost effectiveness bill. It asks legislature to set up a committee to compare actual health care costs with single payer model. If after three years, the data shows considerable cost savings, then the state would be responsible for developing a single payer implementation plan and submitting it to the Legislature.

Legislators we should contact are Stephen Kulik, Paul Mark, Adam Hinds, Stan Rosenberg, Susannah Whipps Lee.

Jackie said our task force should take a two-pronged approach, focusing on direct legislative action as well as building grassroots support for the issue.

Marti mentioned that last week during the Dec. 3 Western Massachusetts Legislative Summit in Florence, WHMP radio host Bill Newman expressed interest in hosting talk shows on the single-payer health issue as well as the FCCPR in general and the group agreed that that would be a useful opportunity.

Jackie suggested that as we move forward with communicating with legislators and others, it would be useful to have a proper letterhead. She presented a sample, created a couple of years ago, for “Western Massachusetts Single Payer Network.”

The month of May might be a good time to host public meetings about the issue, which could include our recent survey results showing the cost savings that result from single-payer health care.

The meetings could be directed at towns, small businesses, labor unions, business-owned cooperatives, Chamber of Commerces, etc. and might include testimonials as well as the cost savings data we’ve collected. Jackie said she would be willing to make the presentation.

Young people/families could be reached out to via a music event similar to a “Sing into Spring” family conference organized by League Health Care Committee.

In the past, referendums on single-payer health care have shown strong support.

We also might want to do a health justice newsletter similar to what Sandy Eaton does for MassCare/Boston, which talks about health justice and allies with larger coalitions.

Two books recommended by Jackie that offer good information about single-payer health care are Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks and A Second Opinion: Rescuing America’s Health Care.

Judy will contact Stephen Kulik, Bob Armstrong and David or Penny can contact Hinds and Susan W. will contact Paul Marks. Someone also noted that Russell and Martha Freedman are supportive of single payer.

Short-Term Timeline

  • Get co-sponsors for the bill.
  • Work towards town meetings in spring
  • Need to collect data before going to towns to ask for their support
  • Make up a paper for people to fill out
  • Have FCCPR ask its members to reach out to legislators (“I’m a voter, please support this bill”)