Health Care

The path to Medicare-for-All is through Rhode Island say advocates

“In 2009 the Episcopal Church nationally came out in favor of any government action that would lead to single-payer healthcare that was available to all,” said Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. “It particularly encourages small, innovative, thoughtful, creative programs that might be able to be replicated at a larger level. The state of Rhode Island is uniquely both legally and physically positioned to be able to be that kind of creative place.”
Photo for The path to Medicare-for-All is through Rhode Island say advocates

Published on May 5, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

Representative David Morales (Democrat, District 7, Providence) and Senator Samuel Bell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) called for passage of their legislation to establish a statewide universal, comprehensive, affordable single-payer health care insurance program at a State House press conference on Wednesday.

“Healthcare is a human right. It should not be exclusive, expensive or accessible only to the fortunate,” said Representative Morales. “Despite our country’s wealth, thousands of working people and families lack the medical care and treatment they need. For too long, we’ve accepted the ineffective status quo and all the harm it has caused to Rhode Islanders. It is time we radically transform our health care system and establish a single-payer Medicare-for-all health care system that guarantees comprehensive health care coverage to all Rhode Islanders free of out-of-pocket expenses or co-payments, regardless of socioeconomic status.”

“The resources that we currently invest in health care are all too often being hoarded by the for-profit entities involved in this broken system, creating inflated costs and placing care out of reach for many,” said Senator Bell. “We need a bold shakeup that uses our health resources for health, not corporate profits. With our small size and compactness, Rhode Island could effectively provide fertile ground for the growth of a more efficient way to fund and deliver health care.”

Representative Morales and Senator Bell are sponsoring legislation (2022-H8119 / 2022-S2769) to create a Medicare-for-all-style single-payer program that would replace multiple “middlemen” insurers with a single coverage provider, the Rhode Island Comprehensive Health Insurance Program (RICHIP).

According to the legislators, the program would be funded by consolidating government and private payments to multiple insurance carriers into a more economical and efficient single-payer program and would replace high health insurance premiums, copays, deductibles and with progressive taxes on large businesses and federal reimbursements.

The single payer program is designed to allow a majority of Rhode Islanders to pay less for health insurance and all Rhode Islanders to have access to comprehensive coverage that includes medical, dental, vision, mental health care as well as lower-priced prescription drugs.

The legislation is supported by Physicians for a National Health Program Rhode Island and the Providence Democratic Socialists of America.

“Canada’s single-payer program began in 1962, in the province of Saskatchewan, which is approximately the same size as Rhode Island. It was so successful, it became a national program within 10 years and continues to be successful today, with better outcomes and lower costs than the U.S.,” said Dr. J. Mark Ryan, chairman of the Rhode Island chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. “Support for single payer extends across the state and includes businesses, unions and community organizations. Rhode Island can lead the way to a better health care system in the United States.”

“In 2009 the Episcopal Church nationally came out in favor of any government action that would lead to single-payer healthcare that was available to all,” said Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. “It particularly encourages small, innovative, thoughtful, creative programs that might be able to be replicated at a larger level. The state of Rhode Island is uniquely both legally and physically positioned to be able to be that kind of creative place.”

“We can’t afford to wait any longer for free, comprehensive health care that isn’t tied to employment,” said Meg Lynch, co-chair of the Providence Democratic Socialists of America Medicare-for-All working group, who emceed the event.. “Rhode Islanders should be able to live comfortably, creatively and happily without the threat of medical debt hanging over our heads. This is long overdue.”

Representative David Morales

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