Montana Governor Schweitzer Wants to Design His Own Universal Health Care System

As ThinkProgress previously reported, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) made history earlier this year when he signed into law legislation that would make his state the first state to lay the groundwork for a single payer health care system. In order to enact this system, the state needs a waiver from the federal health care law, which it will be able to obtain in 2017. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) has introduced legislation to move the waiver date up to 2014, an idea President Obama has endorsed.

Now, another governor is looking to take advantage of flexibility in Obama’s health care law in order to establish a single payer system. Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) announced yesterday that he will be seeking a waiver to set up his own universal health care system in his state modeled after the single payer Canadian health care system that began in the province of Saskatchewan:

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. […] 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 non-emergency procedures such as MRIs.

Local news station KRTV covered Schweitzer’s bid for a new universal health care system for his state. Schweitzer said that under his ideal system patients can still buy private insurance if they want to, but that it’ll be a “lonely place over there at Blue Cross Blue Shield” due to the superior public health insurance he plans to provide.

Schweitzer’s announcement to seek a waiver and design his own system was met with curiosity by GOP state Sen. Jason Priest, who responded, “I don’t want to reject it before I see the details. I am just glad he is thinking about it.”