On May 20, 2017, the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing (JCHCF) held hearings in the State House on the Massachusetts single payer bills supported by the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts:
- S.619/H.2987: An act establishing Medicare for All, and
- S.610/H.596: An act to ensure effective health care cost control.
Katie Murphy presented testimony for The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. Alice Swift, Diana Stein and Jackie Wolf of the Amherst League attended the hearing.
The Senate hearing room B-1 was filled, with people standing along the walls. Two hours was announced as the "official time" of the hearing. In fact, the hearing continued past the 2 hour limit with Senate Co-chair James Welch inviting anyone who was there for the hearing but had not signed up to testify to do so.
Of the 16 JCHCF members, there were a least 12 members listening to testimony at any one time. Moreover, unlike in previous hearings, several of the Legislators asked pertinent questions, such as: How much will this cost? What will happen to the jobs lost in the medical industry? Our teaching hospitals are the best in the world; will this bill hamper their ability?
Ture Turnbull, MassCare Executive Director, organized an impressive array of speakers to present testimony. The first panel to speak included Legislators sponsoring the bills led by Senator Jamie Eldridge. Later in the hearing, Representative Jen Benson, Representative Mike Connolly, Senator Julian Cyr and other Legislators also offered testimony.
The second panel included William Hsiao, a Harvard University Kennedy School of Public Health researcher who has developed single payer financing plans for eight countries, Gerald Friedman, Ben Day and other policy analysts. Hsiao gave a succinct testimony: with single payer for Massachusetts health care costs can reduced by 20% over 5 years, inflation in health care costs will be controlled, better health care will be provided and new jobs will be generated.
The third panel included union leaders. Rand Wilson (President of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice), the President of the MNA, and a MTA leader and faculty member at UMass Lowell all gave strong endorsements of single payer. The next panel included members of the medical profession. Several more doctors testified at different times during the hearing and gave examples of how their ability to treat their patients was hampered/thwarted by the current insurance system.
And there were moving testimonies by people who described health conditions that they or loved ones have and how they have to fight insurance companies and pay exorbitant bills for treatment. The only voice against the bills was a speaker for the private health insurance industry.
League members are encouraged to write breif e-mails thanking Senator Eldridge, Representative Denise Garlick, Senator Cyr and Representative Benson for their testimonies and leadership on these bills for single payer for Massachusetts.