A Michigan state representative has rolled out a plan for a single-payer health care system at the state level.
The plan, dubbed MiCare, was put forward by Rep. Yousef Rabhi of Ann Arbor and would provide health care for all Michigan residents, including mental health services, prescriptions and dental.
To help fund the plan, Rabhi envisions going directly to voters with a ballot initiative to implement a progressive income tax, and also suggested incorporating federal dollars currently going to Michigan’s Medicaid and Medicare programs.
“What we’re hoping to do is provide better services than Medicare and Medicaid,” he said.
During a press conference at the state Capitol building in Lansing Monday, Rabhi did not say how much a single-payer system might cost in Michigan, but suggested it could be a significant savings over Michigan’s current health care system.
Joining Rabhi in support was Rep. Leslie Love, D-Detroit, who said Monday Michigan and the rest of the country could be doing a better job of taking care of people: “It shouldn’t matter if you get injured in a car or if you get injured at your home – your health care should take care of you,” she said.
The Michigan Nurses Association and the group Michigan for Single Payer Healthcare also joined Rabhi at the announcement.
Rabhi said he’s leaving his bill open to cosponsors for a few weeks before formally introducing the legislation in late July.
The concept of a single-payer health care system in Michigan is essentially a non-starter in the state’s Republican-led legislature, but where Democrats stand on the matter has become an important issue among progressives in the party.
In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Abdul El-Sayed introduced his own single-payer health care plan, and Shri Thanedar has said he supports a single-payer system. During a recent debate, Gretchen Whitmer was the only candidate who did not say she supports a single-payer system, telling reporters after the debate she believes it is a federal issue.
Rabhi said he’d ultimately prefer to see a single-payer system implemented at the federal level, but said Michigan residents are currently paying exorbitant costs for health care and shouldn’t have to wait for a federal solution. He acknowledged his version of a single-payer system might not get passed this session, but said he would continue introducing his bill as long as he’s in the legislature.
“We need to make change now,” he said. “We’re not going to wait until the federal government does something, we’re going to act now here in the state of Michigan.”