Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday he will ask the U.S. government to let Montana set up its own universal health care program, taking his rhetorical fight over health care to another level.
Like Republicans who object to the federal health care law, the Democratic governor also argues it doesn’t do enough to control costs and says his state should have more flexibility than the law allows. But Schweitzer has completely different plans for the Medicare and Medicaid money the federal government gives the state to administer those programs.
The popular second-term Democrat would like to create a state-run system that borrows from the program used in Saskatchewan. He said the Canadian province controls cost by negotiating drug prices and limiting nonemergency procedures such as MRIs.
Schweitzer said the province’s demographics and economy are similar to Montana in several ways – yet its residents live longer while spending far less on health care.
It sounds to me like he wants a single-payer system: Medicare for all. Peter Suderman breaks down the lies that surrounded Medicare — that drug prices can be negotiated without harm, that physician fees can be cut without harm, that Medicare is more efficient than the private sector. I’ve tackled many of these myself. It’s telling that Schweitzer is already talking about rationing MRIs.
But you know what? Go ahead, Montana. My response to the healthcare bill has been that states should be given the freedom to try out different policies. If Romneycare works for Massachusetts, if socialized works for Vermont and Montana, great. But only a crazy person would think that the best healthcare reform for Vermont is also the best for Texas. You have to drink deep of the kool-aid to think that Massachusetts’ solution — assuming it is that — should be the same as Alabama’s.
So let Montana socialize medicine if they want to. So long as they’re not allowed to fund it through taxes from other states (i.e., federal subsidies), that’s fine. People can then vote with their feet and move to whatever state has the best healthcare system. I can tell from experience that I would much prefer getting healthcare in Texas than in Pennsylvania.
Let the states figure it out. Let them enact 50 different systems and let people, doctors and insurers go to whichever system they prefer.
And also: would the last doctor to leave Montana please turn off the machine that goes “bing”.