Massachusetts capitol

Massachusetts State House in Boston historic city center.

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(The Center Square) – Members of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing heard from Massachusetts residents and organizations Tuesday urging them to recommend a bill that would extend Medicare coverage to all residents.

The bill calls for the creation of a Healthcare Trust that would be funded by a 10% payroll deduction, according to Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, who outlined the proposal’s goals.

“It declares health care as a right,” Sabadosa told the committee. “It eliminates deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance.”

University of Massachusetts economics professor Gerald Friedman advocated for the plan, saying Medicare for all could save lives.

Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Middlesex, said she supports changes to the health care system but has concerns.

“With the testimony, it sounds to me like everybody’s saying Medicare for all or single payer for all will fix everything, and it’s very hard for us as legislators who have been working in health care to push that narrative because we know it’s not true,” Friedman said. “Can we just be clear? Medicare decides what it’s going to pay for, does not pay for what it won’t pay for. It has drug panels that ... will approve ... some drugs and not all drugs. So how does that reconcile? Why is that better than basically changing our system? Capping hospital costs shifting dollars to primary care. Why is that better?”

Gerald Friedman said in any system, there will be rations one way or another.

“The current system rations on the basis of very rich people who have the ability to pay or, for most of us, what the people in the insurance company are willing to pay for us and they are making money off denying us care,” Friedman said. “A better system, as is done in most of the world, would do it on the basis of medical decisions.”

Currently, 98% of Massachusetts residents have health insurance, according to a statement from Lora Pellegrini, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans. A single-payer health care system nationally would cost an estimated $34 trillion, Pellegrini said.

“Mandating a one-size-fits-all, government-run health care system will eliminate health care options for patients and will dramatically increase taxes on residents and businesses across the commonwealth,” Pellegrini said in a statement. “At a time when most Massachusetts residents have health insurance coverage, the single-payer debate ignores our state’s near-universal coverage achievements and distracts from the critical work we must do to control health care costs for employers and consumers.”

This article originally ran on thecentersquare.com.

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