Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT)

Montana’s Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer believes his state should follow Vermont’s lead in progressive health care reform at the state level. He plans to ask the federal government to grant Montana waivers to adopt a better system modeled after the one used in the neighboring Canadian province of Saskatchewan. From the Billings Gazette:

Schweitzer told a federal official Wednesday that he will be asking for a waiver allowing the state to abandon the federal programs in favor of one the state will design itself. Schweitzer said details would be coming in the next few months when the request is complete.

The governor said he expects the request will be rejected, like the feds recently did with his proposal to let him sell prescription drugs at Medicaid prices to all Montanans.

[...]

The governor told Marguerite Salazar, a regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services, that Congress has designed a “pack of crap” that gives away far too much to the pharmaceutical industry.

With the Republicans controlling the state legislature, it is unlikely that Schweitzer’s call for a better universal system will result in the state adopting such a plan anytime soon; but it is important that there are prominent political voices in the Democratic Party advocating progressive reform rather than defending the poorly  designed and highly unpopular Affordable Care Act.

Rapidly rising health care costs are becoming a more and more serious burden to government, corporate and family budgets in the United States. As a result, the policy debate about our health care system will be a big issue in politics for years to come. It is nice to see Schweitzer moving the scope of the debate leftward.