Montana Gov. Seeks Waiver To Establish Single Payer In His State

By Zaid Jilani for ThinkProgess

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. Watch it:

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.”


  1. JPE927 on September 30, 2011 at 10:19 am

    More POWER to Governor Schweitzer!…Single Payer all the way!

    • Jennifer Davis on September 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      This is defintely a big step in the right direction.I am so happy to see something like this!!!

  2. Vashti Winterburg on October 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

    I believe it was Montana that a chunk of the population was put on Medicare regardless of age because of asbestos exposure. Putting everyone else in the state on a Medicare like program shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Maybe Healthcare-NOW! should look at all of the other states that border Canada for potential single payer candidates. At minimum we should send Gov. Schweitzer a medal if only for being a Democrat who’s willing to call Obamacare a pack of crap.

  3. `william phelps on October 1, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    This “affordable health care plan” again is NOT O’bama’s! There were about 5 democrat senators who were so in bed with the private health care companies, so the “single payer” option died on the senate floor…Thank God the single payer waiver option survived…this was probably a demand made for investors who have grown used to their “entitled returns” on investment, so they have a few years to put their $$$ in other ventures, because once the single payer option starts to steamroll their money becomes value less…so stop blaming O’bama for this…it’s the “vulture” like investor backed private for “profit” health care people that believe they are “entitled” to these reurns on investment at the expense of the patient who are to blame!