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Could Pennsylvania Become a Single Payer State?

State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) is once again trying to convert Pennsylvania’s healthcare system to a single payer one. Ferlo said he will reintroduce legislation that failed to come up for a vote in 2009.

Titled the Pennsylvania Family and Business Healthcare Security Act of 2013, the legislation was drawn up with the help of the non-profit single payer advocacy group Healthcare 4 All PA.

The bill would eliminate the traditional health insurance system with premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, and replace it with a trust fund that would provide universal medical, dental, vision, and mental health care for Pennsylvanians.

The legislation also would provide full funding for prescription drugs, educational health initiatives, and substance abuse treatments.

Ferlo said people shouldn’t be forced to “spend themselves into poverty” trying to cover medical bills.

“We want to see a more sustainable approach towards a lasting healthcare system in our state that really would comprehensively deal with healthcare and make healthcare the right and not the privilege that it is currently today.”

Dave Steil, President of Healthcare 4 All PA, said the bill preserves the bond between patients and their providers.

“And that bond is that the patient selects their doctor, they select their hospital without the intermediary of an insurance company,” said Steil. “It is a direct connection so that government doesn’t control healthcare, the patients should control healthcare.”

Currently no state has implemented a single payer system.

Vermont passed a law in May of 2011 that created a board overseeing the state’s transition towards a single payer system, but that transition isn’t expected to take place until 2017.  Single payer legislation was introduced in California, but was killed in the Senate last January.

Ferlo introduced similar legislation in 2009 but it died in committee.