All Politics Is Local: Single-Payer System in Monroe County

Here in Monroe County, we’ve had a few bold plans lately, but this one is a perfect example of what progressive thinking can do for local government.

On Tuesday, former County Council president Mark Stoops won his bid to run for County Commissioner. Mark has run on a number of progressive issues, but his boldest proposal is a single-payer health system for Monroe County.

Here’s an excerpt from his press release on the subject:

All local government units and larger not-for-profits have their own insurance plans and groups – Monroe County government, City of Bloomington, IU, Monroe County Schools, Richland-Bean Blossom Schools, Ivy Tech, Monroe County Public Library, Bloomington Hospital. United Way has a nice pool of organizations covering 700-800 people. The list goes on and on. Dozens of separate groups representing thousands of local people.

There is no reason, except for a lack of political will, that local government units and not-for-profits cannot pool their employees and create an efficient, low-cost, administrative agency. The savings on administration alone would be greater than 10%. That is 10% savings on millions and millions of dollars.

Once an initial larger pool is created, the lower cost would encourage still more participation by local, large employers. At that point, the economies of scale and dilution of risk would allow us to offer the plan to small businesses and individuals in the community.

The plan is designed to go in phases – after a study commission can run the numbers, it would first include all the governmental units. As it was pointed out, there are numerous benefits to making the administrative agency a separate, nonprofit entity, as it would allow state organizations (like IU) to join without any major legislative changes needed from the General Assembly.

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I received word yesterday that the local United Way health trust is disbanding due to a large increase in premiums. That leaves many local nonprofits trying to negotiate affordable rates on their own. More than 10% of the workforce in Monroe County is employed by nonprofits; making affordable coverage available to these agencies is key to the continued economic development of the county.

Not only is Mark Stoops’ plan workable, but there has never been a better time for this proposal. While we wait for our representatives in Congress to get their act together, we have to be proactive locally.

Here’s my question for the BlueIndiana community: what progressive initiatives are going on in your communities?

Disclosure: I am the Chair of a progressive organization that voted to endorse Mark Stoops, and I wholeheartedly support him in his efforts. However, I have no formal connections to his campaign.