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Single-Payer Health-Care Bill to be Introduced in PA

The Pennsylvania Health Care Plan would cover every resident of the state. Credit: Healthcare4ALL PA
The Pennsylvania Health Care Plan would cover every resident of the state. Credit: Healthcare4ALL PA
October 22, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A bill to create a single-payer health-care system in Pennsylvania will be introduced in the state Legislature by the end of the month.

The legislation is being introduced by Representative Pamela DeLissio of Philadelphia and was crafted with the assistance of HealthCare 4 ALL PA, a not-for-profit advocacy group. David Steil, past president of that organization, says the bill is simply called the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan.

"What it does is create a health-care system that includes every resident of Pennsylvania, that is publicly funded and privately delivered," says Steil.

The cost of the program would be covered by increased taxes, which Steil acknowledges may present a significant obstacle to passage by the state Legislature.

The plan would increase the state personal income tax by an additional three percent, substantially less than most pay for private insurance. It would also add a 10 percent payroll tax on businesses which, as Steil points out, is much less than what businesses spend on health insurance now.

"The average cost for health care benefits for companies that provide health care is about 17 percent of payroll," he says. "So at 10 percent of payroll, the saving is significant."

Similar legislation has been introduced in each legislative session since 2007.

Most recently it was introduced as Senate Bill S-400. None of the earlier versions have not gotten very far. Raising taxes is a hard sell, especially to conservative lawmakers. But Steil insists they're asking the wrong question.

"The question each one has to ask is not just 'look at the taxes' because there are taxes to it, it's not free," he says. "The question is, 'How much less than you're currently paying is this plan to you?'"

Steil says the bill would also eliminate health-insurance costs on pension plans and vehicle insurance, making the potential savings even larger.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA