Single Payer Healthcare Becoming Big Part of Debate


By Rick Fuentes,  MNA  Communications Specialist

It was no surprise to hear Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders declare his support for Single Payer healthcare during last weekend’s Presidential debate.  Sanders has long been a proponent of a system that creates “Medicare for All.”  That model would cover everyone in the country through a publicly funded agency that paid for services to every provider in the country.  After all, Sanders’ home state of Vermont adopted a Single Payer system that covered almost everyone in 2011.  Green Mountain Care, as it’s called, was due to be fully implemented by 2017 (it’s since been put on hold indefinitely).

What’s surprising now is the state of Minnesota is finally studying the idea.  Last year Governor Mark Dayton appointed a 29-member Health Care Financing Task Force to study how to improve delivery and reduce costs of patient care – from prevention to treatment.

On Friday, January 15, the task force voted to adopt 30 measures to recommend to the Minnesota Legislature.  One of those is to study the costs and outcomes that would be generated by a Single Payer system and compare those with the current model.  You can read about the task force’s findings here at the Minneapolis StarTribune or the St. Paul Pioneer Press. If lawmakers adopt the study idea, it would be the state’s first look into how to dramatically affect the way healthcare is both paid for and delivered.

Rose Roach, MNA Executive Director and Minnesota Health Care Financing Task Force Member.

“The issues raised within this task force have made it very clear that we must deal with financing the system before we can begin to deal with the care delivery issues,” said MNA Executive Director and Task Force Member Rose Roach. “We need to move to a place where people get the care they need when they need it, and we save money overall.”

Of course, lawmakers will have to enact the study and the other recommendations of the task force to start to move Minnesota toward better healthcare.  As the articles above state, that might be tough in a Legislature where Democrats have the Senate but Republicans control the House.  As bedside witnesses to what works and what doesn’t work in healthcare, nurses have a collective and respected voice on how to improve it.  Lawmakers need to hear that unified voice.

“As nurses, we see patients who waited too long to get care, and now their conditions are more severe,” said Mary C. Turner, MNA President, in a press release last week. “The health of the patient impacts the health of the community. When patients can get the care they need, it saves their families money. It saves businesses money, and it helps the state budget too.”