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In Support of a Single Payer Health Care System

Wednesday, November 15, 2017  
Posted by: Jamie Klufts
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Statement in Support of a Single Payer Health Care System

Massachusetts led the nation in creating the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides more Americans with health insurance than ever before. Now it is time to lead again and create a single payer model. Even though the majority of adults in Massachusetts have health insurance, they often cannot afford care, leaving them underinsured. In 2014, Massachusetts residents spent on average $10,559 per year on health care, the second highest in the nationˡ. We support the Single Payer Study Amendment adopted in the Senate Health Care Bill because health care should be affordable and accessible regardless of age, income, employment status, or health condition. This amendment seeks to study current health care costs and compare them with a single payer model. If the costs are projected to be lower, then a formal proposal would be brought forth to create a single payer system in Massachusetts. 


Social workers have always served the most vulnerable members of society, often working with clients facing high co-pays and premiums to get necessary treatment. Most behavioral health care services are not accessible without insurance, with out-of-pocket expenses ranging from $100-200 per session. Though Massachusetts continues to dedicate time, education, and funds to behavioral health care treatment, including for substance use, social workers are still seeing a lack of parity when it comes to services rendered. We are pleased to see that Senator Rodrigues’ amendment 143, which would reduce the retroactive claim denial (clawback) window to six months rather than the established two years, was adopted into the Senate Bill. Our members are fighting clawbacks ranging from $3,000 - $10,000 from for-profit insurance companies for behavioral health services already rendered - this does not happen with any other type of service.


Social workers in healthcare and outpatient settings also frequently encounter denials for various levels of care when creating treatment plans for their clients. Social workers are trained to assess and create individualized treatment plans using existing networks and services in the area. We are finding that there are empty beds in psychiatric facilities across the state because insurance companies are denying these claims to individuals in crisis. Denials like these significantly contribute to the issue of long boarding times in emergency rooms, an issue that the Senate aimed to tackle head-on in their health care reform bill.


Our state is teeming with internationally recognized hospitals and teaching facilities. There is no excuse for high costs and difficulty accessing services. A single payer system would ensure that all residents have equal access to affordable, high-quality health care and we enthusiastically support its adoption into state law.




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