First it was Vermont – now it’s Montana...Single Payer Healthcare

First it was Vermont – now it’s Montana. Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana said he plans to ask the federal government to exempt his state from requirements in the Affordable Care Act – so that he can set up a universal, single-payer system like in Canada.

Earlier this year – the state of Vermont started moving in the same direction too. Governor Schweitzer said he wants to create a system modeled after the Canadian province of Saskatchewan – where less is spent on healthcare – but there are better results and people live longer.

Today – Canada has a nationwide single-payer system – but it started with one province – Saskatchewan – and spread across the rest of the nation. Let's hope we see the same thing sweep across America.


Maxrot's picture
Maxrot 11 years 26 weeks ago

Isn't Montana the state that has a county that was set aside specifically in the health care bill to have basically single payer health care? I forget the county, but if I remember correctly it was because of the asbestos in the air from the nearby mining operations.

DRichards's picture
DRichards 11 years 26 weeks ago

True Conservatives Support Protest

This may seem at first glance like a liberal cause, but as I’ve previously noted, that is a false dichotomy, and true conservatives support it:

The whole left-versus-right thing is just a distraction trick. It’s really the American people versus the giant bankers, captains of the military-industrial complex, and handful of others who are benefiting by shafting the average American.

Remember that one of the founders of the Tea Party – Karl Denninger – has slammedthe current Tea Party (which was quickly co-opted by the mainstream GOP) for serving the rich and the Republican party instead of fighting against the giant banks, and iscalling for non-partisan, Gandhi-style nonviolent resistance to take on the banskters.

And see this.

mathboy's picture
mathboy 11 years 26 weeks ago

I forget the name of the county too, but its seat is Libby. It's in the northwest corner of MT.

SysBanana's picture
SysBanana 11 years 26 weeks ago

Role of Government, 2012 Caimpaign

Hey, Thom! While listening to your third hour today, I got inspired to call the White House comment line re: your assertion that the country needs to have a conversation about the Commons and the role of government, including your question "Why even create a government at all?" The woman who took my comment got really excited and urged me to write to the White House AND the 2012 campaign office about it. Here's what I said:

~~ I want the President to initiate and sustain a conversation with the nation about our government, the Commons, and the role of government, as a cornerstone of his campaign. He needs to educate the people about the role of government, about what it is and what it's for, and why we even have it, because the schools aren't teaching this anymore, except at the college level, and the people really don't understand or even know how to think about it. He needs to go all the way back to the beginning, talk about the ideas that inspired the founding of our government, briefly trace the history of their development into the programs we have now, teach what the Commons is and why it needs to be protected. And he needs to make a prolonged and sustained effort to do this throughout the campaign.

I think that if he does this, he will win back the hearts of the Progressives, who are all really mad at him right now for being marginalized and don't want to work for him anymore. He'll win back the base, AND I think he'll win back the middle. And as a result, he'll have a more thoughtful electorate that's better able to understand the issues and he'll win the election hands-down. ~~

I'll be writing those electronic letters shortly, and will be asking for a response from both the Whitehouse and the campaign. And I'm going to keep at the campaign office until I get someone there who's in a position to make a difference, and get them fired up about it, too...

In the meantime, here's a giant hug to you and Louise. I give thanks for you every day, Thom. You've educated me, you inspire me to action, and you've literally saved my sanity as I've developed a deeper and broader community awareness. You are absolutely The Best!

Love always, SysB

GT21's picture
GT21 11 years 26 weeks ago

Hi Thom,

I am not an athiest, but that was a fascinating interview with Richard Dawkins. Keep up the great work!

MaryMary's picture
MaryMary 11 years 26 weeks ago

Mr. Hartman,

Canada does Not have a nationwide single payer system. Each provience has it's own health care system. In Ontario it's the Ontario Health Insurance Program or OHIP. OHIP is not accepted in other proviences nor is other provience plans accepted in Ontario. Each Provience covers different procedures. In Quebec, for example, breast implants are covered (gotta love the French influence). Breast implants are not covered in the programs of other Provencies. If you live in Ontario, and need medical help in British Columbia, you are treated the same way you would be here in the USA if you are a member of a HMO, and seek service outside the HMO. Many employers provide a supplementary health insurance plan to their employees. Usually, the supplementary plans will cover prescription drugs and dental (which are not part of any Provinecial plan). The supplementary plans will also cover some of the costs of care in a US medical facility, where many people will go if they need quick care. The OHIP plan has become essiently a two tier system (The haves and the have nots). Doctors are not taking new patients, or they will only take patients who have supplemental insurance. Those who cannot get an appointment with a physician are relegated to clinics. In a clinic, you may be seen by a doctor or a physcians assistant. If you are lucky enough to be seen by a MD, that doesn't guarantee you'll be seen by the same MD or even seen by a MD on your next visit.

The OHIP plan ( I'm most familar with it because I lived in Ontario) has some pluses. OHIP is a wellness program. The purpose is to keep you well. The minues kick in if you get ill. It can take forever to receive treatment.

Trixi Wu's picture
Trixi Wu 11 years 26 weeks ago

Mr. Hartmann, once again you let a guest beat you up. The topic was the privatization of the "commons". The subject drifted to the post office and you blamed, who else, Goerge W. Bush and the republican house for the delima the post office is in thanks to the postal reform act of 2006. You always conveniently forget to mention is the fact 100% of the senate also voted to pass this bill. Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and last but not least, Bernie Sanders are included in the traitors. If you go to war with a guest, please be prepared with facts that make our argument plausable to all progressives. We lose when you consistently forget all the facts. The internet makes it easy to verify that you have not presented your argument correctly. Please stop giving them ammo to shoot back at us.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 26 weeks ago

"The whole left-versus-right thing is just a distraction trick. It’s really the American people versus the giant bankers, captains of the military-industrial complex, and handful of others who are benefiting by shafting the average American."

That's for darn is a distraction trick...the rich have been using that smoke and mirrors illusion ploy to get what they want.

"In Quebec, for example, breast implants are covered (gotta love the French influence)."

I hope that is limited to women who have had mastectomies....otherwise it is the worse kind of abuse of the health care system. Nor should it cover penile implants or erection enhancement medications. It is unfortunate that many women have been mentally abused into thinking that they need to be bigger. Many of us men actually prefer women whose breasts will not drop to the floor after they get older. (Gravity is cruel...I know). Strictly cosmetic surgery should not be covered under such a health system.

ObamaCare is a big rip off in favor of the HealthScare Insurance companies and Pharmaceuticals. It will be just like the Trillion dollar rip off bailouts of the banks and Wall Street where they rigged it so the banks would not be held to the fire if they didn't make loans to Americans...instead they funneled much of the money into overseas gambles...and Obama's Tax Forgiveness Act where wealthy scumbags, hiding their money in off-shore accounts would only have to pay a tiny portion of taxes they originally owed if they used that money to invest in America...which of course they didn't...and renegged on their half of the deal after getting the tax breaks. The criminal politicians (Republican and Democrat...right...or left) continue to lie and make promises and continue to screw us all. And many states are now challenging the constitutionality of forcing us all to shell out big bucks to these gangsters. The HealthScare Insurance companies are raising their rates and most people can't even affort to feed their families or provide them shelter anymore...and then Obama really thinks his plan will be affordable to all? And if you don't pay the Al Capones you will get fined by Uncle $am. Maybe they will eventually herd us all into giant gullags or collectives and force us all into enslavement making brooms or something. Where's that cat....I'm getting hungry!

Trixi Wu's picture
Trixi Wu 11 years 26 weeks ago

Mr. Hartmann, you also praised Obamacare for forcing the healthcare companies to use only 20% of the monies taken in for administrative costs thus driving down health care costs for the general public. Guess what? The new premiums are coming out in October and they are up over 9%. United Healthcare is just passing on there need for more money for administrative costs to the general public. If you ever think corporations that get taxed, or mandated to spend more to operate, they just pass those costs on to the consumers . If they only get to keep 20% of the new increases they drive it up even more. Thus creating terrible inflation hurting the little people. i.e. all the new higher charges and fees the banksters are giving us due to the "new regulations" imposed by government. Once again, do your homework. Obamacare stinks and you know it.

mwalkerco's picture
mwalkerco 11 years 26 weeks ago

So for every state that attempts to create a single-payer system, the RED and PURPLE statesa are doing their damnest to get out of healthcare completely. And isn't the GOP talking about introducing abill to eliminate healthcare offering by employers?

House GOP move stalls health reform action Date: Wednesday, September 28, 2011, 4:40pm MDT

Ed Sealover
Reporter - Denver Business Journal

Colorado House Republicans temporarily have blocked the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange board from applying for a $22 million grant that would have been used to set up the technology infrastructure needed to operate an online health insurance marketplace beginning in 2014.

GOP leaders announced they were concerned that the grant application speaks of modifying Colorado statutes and regulations to “conform to federal requirements.”

The move prevents the exchange board from submitting a grant application — which members have been working on for six weeks — by the Sept. 30 due date. However, board chairwoman Gretchen Hammer said she remains hopeful that the board can answer legislators’ questions and get the application in for a future round of funding with a Dec. 31 due date to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services .

Hammer added that she’s not sure what the impact of the delayed application will be on the board’s ability to create an exchange by the start of 2014.

“I think it’s still too early to tell,” Hammer said. “I think it’s important to move forward with the full support of the [Legislative Health Benefit Exchange Implementation Review] Committee.”

The exchange board is a nine-member committee charged with putting together an online marketplace where individuals and small businesses can go to purchase insurance, often with the help of tax subsidies, beginning in 2014, as required in the federal health care reform act. The Legislature earlier this year approved a bipartisan plan to get the board up and running.

Board members have concentrated their early activities around getting organized and submitting this grant application to get money for the exchange’s operational infrastructure. The state has had a history of computer-system problems and failures, and getting the technical side of the exchange figured out early has been a priority for members.

But the legislative review committee chairwoman and vice chairman are required under state law to come to an agreement on any grant applications, or else the grant must go to a vote of the full 10-member legislative review committee, which is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. And Rep. Bob Gardner, a Colorado Springs Republican and the vice chairman of the committee, told Hammer he did not agree with the substance of the grant, essentially grounding the application.

Rep. Jim Kerr, a Littleton Republican and review committee member, said in a statement that GOP members were very concerned about the requirements to accede to federal law.

“This current application would push Colorado into a one-size-fits-all mandate from Washington,” Kerr said. “Colorado needs Colorado-specific solutions to meet our Colorado-specific needs. That’s why we created a health benefit exchange to fit the unique needs of Colorado and to protect Coloradans from an out-of-control Washington, D.C., bureaucracy.”

The grant sought money to hire 27 full-time employees by February 2012 with salaries ranging from $45,600 to $200,400.

Hammer said the board will continue to move forward with planning the exchange with money from a $1 million planning grant the state received last year. It also plans to meet with the full legislative review committee to explain the grant application, a move that has not happened yet.

pahrumplife's picture
pahrumplife 11 years 26 weeks ago

Hi Thom and Louise – You are a wealth of information and I rely on you both to give us the best and most honest information for which I really believe you always strive. I do, however, agree with Frank Smith, one of your callers today, who pointed out your creating a disservice to viewers by interviewing and/or giving credence today to parties who call in without credentials or who are featured as experts but are yet ill-informed on their subjects namely, on today’s show, the private for-profit prison industrial complex and also the court system. Both Frank and Beau Hodai, whom Frank mentioned as quoted by one of your guests, are seasoned veterans in the fight against the private for-profit prisons. I urge you to pursue an interview or many with one or both of these men who have the credentials and have been in the fray for many years and are more than willing to convey their expert knowledge on the subject of private for-profit prisons and their dealings with the legislature, the courts and the Chamber of Commerce and the many offices, agencies, and high profile individuals that boost the Corporatocracy.

You can find Frank’s and Beau’s contact numbers prominently displayed on the following links:

Thanks for your great effort.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 11 years 26 weeks ago

Rick Scott would privatize all health care in Florida if possible.

dianhow 11 years 26 weeks ago

Thom and Louise Thanks for all you do ! Great show

MaryMary's picture
MaryMary 11 years 26 weeks ago


The instance of breast implant was not for a mastectomy victim, but for a young woman who suffered low self esteem because she had small breasts. It was a court decision, and the implants won. As for eating the cat. Learn to eat lower on the food chain. Train the cat to catch mice and you can split it with the cat. If you eat the cat.....well you get the picture.

Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 11 years 26 weeks ago

I wish Ohio would. I have Medical Mutual of Ohio, and I learned today that my yearly mammogram, which is supposed to be free and covered without copay under wellness, or so I thought, is covered ONLY IF nothing is found. So now through the mammogram and physician exam it has been discovered that I have a suspicious lump in my breast and that I NOW have to pay for a mammogram that was doing its job and was supposed to be free. Medical Mutual tells me that anything coded as "diagnostic" has to be paid for by the insured--so I don't get my FREE YEARLY checkup unless NOTHING is found. What kind of bullcrap is that!!!???

jstrahan's picture
jstrahan 11 years 26 weeks ago

Not possible in short term. I live in Texas which is controlled by the Republicans which have been sued by the Justice Dept. for new re-districting plan. Whites are now in the minority in Texas and I believe in time Texas will return as a democratic state. Texans have yet to learn the price they are paying for the Republican rule under Perry. Under Perry, Texas has failed to enforce EPA requirements and allowed business to pollute our land, air, and water. Actual results are almost impossible to attain. Business are operating with taxes and in return thousands of teachers, firemen, and police officers have been laid off. School budgets have been slashed. Services have been slashed. Perry is a real Republican. He has been bought and paid for. I support single payer but think it could take 8 to 10 years for us to get a Democratic controlled government back in the state to make it possible.

David Abbot's picture
David Abbot 11 years 26 weeks ago

Well, for me single payer would be a problem, because I have had so much fun making fun of the corporate _____s who want everyone to pay through the nose for worse than third world healthcare, that I just don't know what I would do with myself if we got single payer health care. Don't get me wrong, I'm in favor of single payer, and the first politician in Washington State who comes out in favor of it and really pushes it through will have a guaranteed life-long career of getting elected to office, and people will be healthier and live longer and the government will save billions of dollars a year and the corporate thieves will be able to steal only a small portion of the money that they are accustomed to stealing. And I know I should be grateful, but if this goes through, who am I going to make fun of?

Oh wait, I can still make fun of the war profiteers, the hypocrites who just love killing foreign people but want to interfere in women's reproductive rights in the name of "respecting life," the pharisee bankers who fraudulently kick widows out of their houses while claiming to be "Christians," the gay-bashers who claim to be channeling a very odd God, and the psychotically "Christian" republicans who think that people of color shouldn't be allowed to vote, and the "family values" people who want a huge fence to keep out the illegals even though they have illegals working in their houses as virtual slaves.

Ok, I guess I'm alright with single payer health care.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 11 years 26 weeks ago

It's foolish for average hard working citizens to be wealth creators for an industry that by law should be nonprofit. We simply can't afford it anymore. Most of us already agree some type of universal, single- payer plan is the most affordable way to go. I suggest nonproductive health insurance CEOs make themselves useful and go to med school if they want to make money off the misfortune of others.

little friend's picture
little friend 11 years 26 weeks ago

I SO agree with you !!! Why is so hard for people to realize it's the for-profit-ness and the insurance companies that are doing nothing to make health care better and are simply siphoning off $ that could go for HEALTH SERVICES? There is plenty of money in the system if those things are eliminated. Non-profits can STILL pay employees/practitioners VERY WELL. It's just that CEO's and stockholders would not be getting profits for nothing. As long as that doesn't change, health care costs will never come down and everyone will be paying more and more and more. So...people might as well stop whining about the cost of their health care premiums until they are willing to have a single payer system with non-profit delivers of service. That includes drug companies, hospitals and nursing homes as well as doctors. The beauty of non-profits is they aren't run by government. They can still have their creativity, their personality and their choices of what services to offer and how.

DJ Pullstart 11 years 26 weeks ago

My New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie would likely promote a system like Canada's if he thought it would break the Teacher's Union.

thecoloradokid's picture
thecoloradokid 11 years 26 weeks ago

I love David Abbot's "well, for me single payer"! It has just about every good reason why ALL Americans should want single payer. If only more people could grasp that with a good government run program, like Medicare, the cost to administer the program is only about 3%. The overhead on private plans runs from about 15% overhead to about 20%. This difference of about 12% to 17% is a back-breaker! Don't forget the egregious behavior of United Healthcare, I believe, where Froma Harrop, the syndicated columnist from Providence reported the CEO was paid $1.6 billion, yes that's right, $1.6billion!! for the year 2008, if my memory serves me right. If the Supreme Court (anything's possible with these Republican/Fascist bums on the court) turns down Obama's healthcare plan I think states like Washington should come up with their own single payer plan. A few years after implementation citizens living in other states would demand their own single payer plan, or move to states that have single payer. Oh, by the way, I love it when the various plans say they only make about 3% PROFIT!!! That's after taking out highly paid executive salaries and bonuses - just enough to get down to about 3% "profit." What a crock! They are a perfect example of the saying; "Figures can lie and liars can figure."

MaryMary's picture
MaryMary 11 years 26 weeks ago

colorado kid.

You lost all creditability when you said "Medicare is a good government run program. Medicare fraud is estimated at $60 to 80 Billion /year. If that's a good program, I'd hate to see a bad one. Here is the article.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 26 weeks ago

M&M: Well, hell's bells, MM...I have low esteem because I don't own a corporate jet or live in a mansion....maybe we can get the government to shell out some more money so that I don't have to eat cats...or rats and have a high esteem...maybe I could even be a Republican or a wealthy faux liberal who just gets off on not actually having to live the low life, like the majority of others they say they are fighting for, and have, perhaps, guilty consciences. And, unless you are well-to-do may find yourself having to dine on the more worldly delicacies one day and then begin to wonder if some woman's self esteem was worth it back in the days when the tax payers had to shell out for cosmetic surgery while others were in much more need of medical care. There is a whole world of people with low self-esteem for many various reasons some maybe valid others maybe not so much so. There are other things, hard medical things, life and death things, that matter much more than raising any individual's self esteem. It's no wonder things like this give the right wing Republicans ammunition against liberals. They go way overboard on certain issues. And I hear that PETA has even gotten into porn...will they stop short of producing "kitty" porn?

MaryMary's picture
MaryMary 11 years 26 weeks ago

Well P, I agree with you about the self esteem issue. I don't believe it's legit, but I don't see how you get from a woman with small boobs in Quebec to right wing Republicans. Everything is not political. In fact, in my life nothing is political. I try to live my life doing what I believe is right. I certaintly wouldn't depend on a politician to feed me, clothe me, or provide me with "kitty" porn. You may be on to something with the "kitty" porn. All you need is a couple more cats and a video camera. Film the cats when there in "action", transfer it to DVD's and sell them on Craig's list. It will supplement your income. And pretty soon, you may have enough money to buy the corporate jet and mansion you desire. Isn't the free market wonderful?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 25 weeks ago

Yeah, like maybe I can set up an account with Hide My Ass, sell on-line "kitty porn", and since that company fully complies with the we know from a recent conviction in the news, I might be able to get fed wholesome food while sitting in prison.

"Hide My Ass throws light on 'LulzSec' logs."
"British virtual private network company Hide My Ass has said that it turned over logs on a suspected LulzSec member to the FBI in response to a UK court order.

The court order requested information related to an account associated with a number of attacks on computer systems, Hide My Ass said in a blog post on Friday. Cody Andrew Kretsinger, 23, of Phoenix, Arizona, was arrested last week over alleged attacks on Sony Entertainment."

Doesn't Sony Entertainment deserve to be attacked? A few years ago they planted a trojan in their CDs using rootkit technology in order to spy on their customers?

Homeland Security...keeping the world safe from terrorism ...and everything freedom of speech...expression..etc. Mall Cops of America. Or is that Cops of Mall of America?

MaryMary's picture
MaryMary 11 years 25 weeks ago

You keep coming up with solutions. You would get fed in prison. I don't know about food quality, but it's probably better than rat or mouse. Plus, from what I've heard about prisons, "Hide my Ass" would be words to live by.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 25 weeks ago


michael d's picture
michael d 11 years 25 weeks ago

Have we lost the battle with the American public on the health care issue though? The tea partiers believe universal health care is a "threat to freedom." Even Elizabeth Warren has had difficulty languaging the reasons why... People don't seem to get it, except intuitively, and that's not proving good enough. So here it is as best I can make out: The honest reality, which every libertarian and every Republican wants to deny, is that the free market will always determine an entire class of people too poor to afford health care and probably too poor to put money away for retirement. It remains a hard fact that in the fierce competition for good paying jobs, there will always be losers. And just because the vagaries fo the market dictate a wage too low for them to afford health care, doesn't make that wage "right." No kidding about this. Look - we need people to stand at the cash register, pick grapes and lettuce, pump gas, flip burgers and so on. Those are good and necessary services. It is preposterous to say that those workers "can go to college if they want better pay." Because A. most of them can't. and B. even if we did send everyone to college, the market competition will simply again run its course, and we'll end up with college grads bringing in the harvest. A stupid waste of money.

Conservatives are people want to take advantage of low prices at the grocery store, but not afford a living wage to the people who did the hard work of getting the products there. I say rather that if those workers don't earn enough to afford health care and retirement planning, then we aren't paying enough for their efforts. And of course we can't adjust their wages as that messes with the market dynamics too much, so taxation and social net benefits are the common sense solution.

But of course, conservative will never understand that. They think "hey that's not my problem and sure glad I'm not one of them." Conservatives adopt any interpretation, no matter how dishonest or ridiculous, just so long as it suits their pocketbooks or makes them rich. The fierce hatred they exhibit towards "Obamacare" reflects the desperate greed and selfishness by which they live their lives. I say if conservatives want to live the every-man-for-himself let-the-losers-die-in-the-gutter Wild West ethic, they can go live in some third world country, and live like the vicious animals they really are.

David Abbot's picture
David Abbot 10 years 26 weeks ago

Actually, you're right when you say that there is lots of medicare fraud. And interestingly, most of the people who defraud medicare, are republicans, who have bribed congress to make it easier for them to defraud medicare. And if those republicans were not defrauding medicare, the program would have a lot more money to use for helping people who need help.

So you lost all credibility when you criticized medicare. In fact, odds are, the people who pay you to post republican-type comments on this site, could very well be involved in defrauding medicare. And if they succeed in stealing enough money from medicare that it can no longer help people, they will say, "See? The government can't run anything right, we need to privatize medicare," and then when they get control of medicare, they will steal the rest of the medicare money. They are common thieves. No, wait, they're not common thieves, because common thieves are often people who are hungry and can't find work in the republican-dominated business climate of outsourcing jobs, and so they steal in order to have food to eat. The republican thieves already have enough food to eat; they are stealing so they can buy third, fourth, and fifth houses, so they can buy 200 - foot boats. Stealing is a hobby for them, a lifestyle choice.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

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