Montana Shoots For Universal Single Payer Health Coverage


Usually criticism surrounding the Affordable Care Act comes from those on the right seeking to undo the landmark health reform legislation. But at least two states have decided to take advantage of the flexibility afforded states in the bill and opt out to pursue single-payer systems, dissatisfied with the reach of the current law.

The first state to do so was Vermont. Earlier this year Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) signed into law legislation that would make Vermont the first state to lay the groundwork for a single-payer health insurance system.

Now Montana is following Vermont’s lead. Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) announced he will be seeking a waiver to set up his own single-payer system for Montana, modeled after the single-payer Canadian health insurance system.

The popular second-term governor aims to make his state’s system look like that of Saskatchewan — a province that controls costs by negotiating drug prices and limiting non-emergency procedures such as MRI’s. Under Schweitzer’s system, patients could still buy private health insurance if they want to, but consumers would have the benefit of a robust public health insurance plan as an alternative.

Progressives who championed universal single-payer insurance during the early days of the health care reform negotiations should pay special attention to the work now going on at the state level to promote those systems. Universal single-payer may not be a dead dream after all.


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Photo from via flickr.


Thomas A.
Thomas A7 years ago

I expect Vermont to be on top of such things, but out of the mid-west comes North Dakota! Very cool. I've been wondering what has happened with Vermont's plan - it isn't getting into the media much (big surprise, since most media moguls are super-rich gop types). Glad to hear it's still on track.

This is great news. There's smart states and more reason to hope that we'll come to our senses, maybe even in my lifetime.

Of course, there will always be a yammering buffoon calling this big, bad gov't. Medical care is a right, not a privilege like it is now, nor is it a brand of car or lima beans. We're not talking about "Uncle Sam's Cream of Tomato Soup" or the "Stars and Stripes 60-inch LED 3D HD TV". Gov't is supposed to protect your rights - everyone but the likes of Rand Paul can grasp that much. This is part of that.

When everyone is looked after, epidemics are less likely to spread, people are less likely to take sick leave, etc. Sure, people are free to go to the doctor once every 10 years if they want to. However, 10s of millions in this country don't go at all solely because they can't afford to. The option needs to be there. It needs to be accessible to everyone.

I'm pumped about how these states pull this off. I never did look into what Mass. implemented under Romney. I understand it's something in between single-payer and the ACA (affordable care act). This is very cool, all around.

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush7 years ago

Once, our citizens hear the truth behind the single-payer health coverage, and not listen to te lies of the GOP, they will welcome it with open arms.
In fact, JUST TRY taking it away from them. This is what freightens the Tea Party Republicans. They are smart enough to realize, that it is arduous to take something away from people, once they have it and realize, it is to their advantage.

The drug companies are behind the far-right and are lobbying feverishly.

Ira L.
Ellie L7 years ago

California -- let's have Universal Health Care!

june t.
reft h7 years ago

Good news from Montana!

Bonnie B.
Bonnie B7 years ago

GOOD FOR MONTANA!! Like so many things, if we wait for our gird locked feds to do the right thing we'll all be dead! We can do this state by state! Think globally, act locally!

Support #OccupyWallStreet.

Frances C.
Frances C7 years ago

That would be great news.
Unfortunately we can't have single payer because the righties are beholden to the insurance executives. They make millions of our health care dollars and give large donations to the Republicans. President Obama did the best he could to get health care reform, and got a decent plan...he had to fight every step of the way against the "Hell No" crowd. He deserves credit for doing what many past Presidents tried to do and failed.

Hope S.
Hope S7 years ago

Any alternative to the Insurance companies hold on medical coverage would be welcomes. Years ago Medigap coverage could be bought at a reasonable price. Now even though Medicare pays the insurance companies, the companies themselves are acting as though they are the only ones providing the coverage with high deductibles and co-pays all at increasing premiums each year.
They are fighting Health Care Reform because it cuts into their profits by among other things making them pay at lease 80% of their revenues in benefits and curtailing some of their abuses.

Janis M.
Janis M7 years ago

New York and all of the of the other New England states next: Puhleeze!

Marina Joslin
Marin Joslin7 years ago

Bravo for those two states. Let’s hope that the rest will follow. Governor Brown, please follow Vermont’s and Montana’s example!!!

Marina Joslin
Marin Joslin7 years ago

Bravo for those two states. Let’s hope that the rest will follow. Governor Brown, please follow Vermont’s and Montana’s example!!!