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Single Payer Health Care Options

Bills on Single-Payer and Health Reform Implementation Move Forward in California

California lawmakers worked feverishly at the end of June to move forward significant health reform legislation, including implementing new Medicaid rules for the next five years, setting a framework for establishing health insurance exchanges, and moving the state towards a single-payer health care system.

Support for Single-Payer Health Coverage Widens

State legislatures and city councils across the country are raising the bar for how ambitious national health care reform should be, with many coming out in favor of single-payer health coverage reform. 

Health Care for All: Policy Options for 2009

Download a copy of the report in PDF format here.  View the HTML version of the report here.

OVERVIEW

Single-payer system models for reform are perhaps the "gold standard." Physicians for a National Health Plan has reported that under a national single-payer system, individuals could expect to pay 2% of their income into the system and employers about 7% of payroll.  These amounts are significantly less than what is currently spent.

Single-payer systems ensure all residents have access to health care and significantly reduce administrative and billing costs through a single portal for the administration of coverage and payments to providers for services.  Importantly, single-payer systems combine all money currently being spent in a relatively uncoordinated way into a single pool - individual, employer and government expenses.  There are single-payer movements in numerous states, including Illinois, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Washington, Connecticut and California, which has twice passed a single-payer bill only to be vetoed by the Governor. 

While the political hill single-payer must climb is steep, all health care reforms should be judged against the standard set by single payer proposals - comprehensive coverage, maximum out-of-pocket expenses, administrative efficiency and simplicity, and costs limited to a percentage of income.  Many reforms in states are moving in that direction and advocates and legislators are increasingly demanding that half-measures be replaced with comprehensive proposals that meet this standard.

States Make Single-Payer the Standard for Reform

The California legislature is again on the verge of passing universal single-payer health care. SB 840, the California Universal Healthcare Act, sponsored by State Senator Sheila Kuehl, was recently approved by the State Senate and is now before the Assembly, where it too is expected to pass. The legislation, which is often compared to a Medicare-for-all system, would provide comprehensive and seamless health care for all residents. Everyone - individuals, employers and government - would share responsibility for funding the program. Importantly, consumers would have complete freedom to choose their providers who would be paid according to actuarially-sound reimbursement.