A bill that will soon be introduced in Michigan House proposes a state-run, single-payment health system that covers dentistry, mental health, vision and all other physical needs.
The bill, co-signed by 12 representatives, was drafted by Democratic floor leader Yousef Rabhi, who on Wednesday announced the proposal for a MiCare at a State Capitol press conference.
“Too many families have become distressed and are trying to pay for health care for their loved ones, and too many people are honestly dead,” Rabhi said, noting that about 1,000 people in Michigan die each year because they do not have health care. “It is an unacceptable reality in the richest nation on the planet and in the history of mankind.”
The plan will not enter into force until voters have approved a funding mechanism. About 500,000 Michigan residents, including 80,000 children, are uninsured, Rabhi said.
He claims the plan would save about $ 20 billion and would further cut residents’ expenses because they would no longer have to pay for deductible, co-pay or co-insurance out of pocket. The plan is “pro-business,” Rabhi said, because it frees companies from the burden of paying for their employees’ health care. By 2020, companies averaged about $ 5,200 for individuals and over $ 15,000 for families.
A state-run insurance company’s administration will add up to 3% in costs annually, while executive pay, profits and other costs at private insurance companies can add up to 18% to customers’ collective bills, Rabhi said.
“We are already paying way too much out of the pocket of insurers ‘executives and their profits,” he said, adding that eliminating the profit motive would also address insurers’ incentive to refuse necessary services.
However, the bill faces a difficult-if-not-impossible way forward, as most Republicans and many centrist Democrats do not want to wind up the private insurance industry. They argue that single payers would cause taxes to rise and would ultimately cost residents more, while slowing the provision of health care. A similar 2018 Rabhi-written bill did not move in the House.
Voting shows that the single-payer concept is gaining popularity. Pew Research found in 2020 that 63% of respondents were in favor of a universal system, an increase from 59% the year before. Although several states, such as New York and California, have come close to enacting legislation, the insurance industry and some union allies in legislative assemblies have derailed efforts. A state single-payer system would also require some form of federal approval, making it even harder to implement.
But Rabhi said he would continue to press, “People should not die because they can not afford their insurance.”
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