Jackie Wolf and Diana Stein of the League of Women Voters in Massachusetts, spoke to the club on August 14 on the subject of Single Payer Healthcare. The league—which is non-partisan—does back legislation in Massachusetts that is titled "Medicare for All in Massachusetts" (S619 and H2987).
Acknowledging that the bill does not actually relate to the national Medicare, they explained the Leagues reason for supporting the bill. They noted that the Leagues study shows that the U.S. has the lowest life expectancy of the nations in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, has the worst record of infant mortality among OECD nations and ranks 34th on the list of healthiest countries. At the same time, U.S. Citizens pay the most for healthcare per capita with costs exceeding the rate of inflation. In Massachusetts, households spend an average of 17% of their income on healthcare related costs. These rates effect state and municipal budgets and, therefore, affect everyone in the state.
The women noted the waste and inefficiency of health insurance companies, citing that 30% of the insurers income goes to administration, not to healthcare. Doctors—because of the intricacies of the system—spend 20% of their costs on billing.
The proposed act suggests funding for the plan with employers paying 7.5% of employees' wages and employees paying 2.5% after the first $30,000 of income. Self-employed individuals would pay 10% on income over $30,000 and 10% would be levied on unearned income over $30,000. There would be no tax on SSI, Social Security and Pension incomes. The plan would have no co-pays or deductibles.
As can be easily imagined, the presentation generated spirited discussion on all sides of the issue.