AGAWAM — Before Council President Rosemary Sandlin could even finish introducing a resolution to support Medicare for All in Massachusetts, its sponsor Tom Hendrickson asked for it be removed from the agenda.

Had it passed, a copy of the resolution would’ve been sent to Gov. Maura Healey and local legislators, urging them to support bills on Beacon Hill that would establish a single-payer health care system in the state. The system would be funded with a statewide 10% payroll tax, 7.5% on employers and 2.5% on employees.

After the meeting Feb. 5, Hendrickson said he initially thought he had the votes for it to pass. However, at the day’s Legislative Committee meeting, he said other councilors wavered on it and needed more information.

According to the meeting’s unofficial minutes, Councilor George Bitzas did not believe in supporting the bills, which he called “socialized medicine.” Meanwhile, Councilor Anthony Russo questioned how the state would fund it. The committee voted 4-1 to give a negative recommendation to the City Council. Hendrickson, who is chair of the committee, was the only “no” vote.

“People, like I said, wanted more information,” Hendrickson said. “I’m hopeful that by convening a workshop on this, which I’m hopeful that the chair will arrange, that we can bring people in to answer some of the questions that councilors had.”

Withdrawing the resolution also allowed Hendrickson to reintroduce it sooner than if the council discussed or voted on it. Had it been rejected at the full council meeting, he would have had to wait two years to bring it back, said council Administrative Assistant Barbara Bard.

The workshop idea was first proposed by resident Susan Grossberg during Citizen’s Speak Time. Hendrickson requested one near the end of the meeting, which Councilor Peter Smus said he’d support. Russo said he wanted more information on Medicare for All and that he’d support whatever the council chooses to do.

Councilor Robert Rossi asked why Hendrickson was requesting a workshop on the resolution, and if he even could, given that he withdrew it. Council President Rosemary Sandlin said he had the right to ask for a workshop.

“OK, have it your way,” said Rossi.

Bitzas said millions of people disagreed with Medicare for All, including all of Agawam’s representatives on Beacon Hill — state Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield), state Rep. Michael Finn (D-West Springfield) and state Rep. Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick). Reminder Publishing previously reached out to them on the subject, only receiving a response from Finn, who said he was not convinced.

“It’s a slap to their faces if you go to do something with workshops,” Bitzas said.

In a statement, Hendrickson thanked the residents who came out in support of the resolution. A total of 13 people spoke in favor of Medicare for All during Citizen’s Speak Time. Residents said the single-payer health care would be better quality than private health insurance, make it easier for doctors to determine their pay and recommend medicine, would put the United States in line with other countries, and would remove the profit motive from health care, among other things.

Resident Corinne Wingard said Medicare for All would save Agawam $13 million, “about enough to pay for a new high school,” she said.

“Sooner or later you’re going to need something that puts you in the medical system and then you really have to start thinking of how you’re going to get that paid for, how are you going to get through it,” said resident William Bobskill. “If you have Medicare for All, it’s really a much simpler method of getting the care you need, when you need it.”

Hendrickson also said he would immediately start arranging a workshop, and that he expected one to happen this summer. In an interview, Sandlin said that he would need five councilors’ approval to host a workshop. She said they had discussed it and she instead recommended he hold a forum at the library.

tlederer@thereminder.com | + posts