As Democrats in Washington work to protect the Affordable Care Act from those who want less government involvement in health care, Democrats in Massachusetts say it's time for the state to play a much bigger role.

The Legislature's Health Care Finance Committee heard Tuesday from supporters like Sen. Jaime Eldgridge (D-Acton), who thinks health care is a right and likened the state providing care to the way we treat education.

"Wherever you grow up in Massachusetts, you have a right to an education, you have a free education. We're really looking to make healthcare a right along that same sort of model," Eldridge said.

Eldridge wants the state to take care of residents "cradle to grave" and admits that such a huge new goal would cost taxpayers in the form of a new payroll tax.

"Like any universal good, universal value, we would need to raise taxes to pay for it," Eldridge said.

Massachusetts isn't going to adopt a single-payer system and do away with private health insurance any time soon. But Beacon Hill is giving it more consideration than ever before and lawmakers could commission a study to determine its cost.

"The single-payer health care system is increasingly proposed as a transformative solution, helping get more people to the doctor’s office while reducing costs. However, there has not been a study here in Massachusetts on the cost and feasibility of implementing it at the state level," House Public Health Committee co-chair Kate Hogan testified, according to prepared remarks.

Hogan is backing a bill to create a commission to investigate and report back to lawmakers about how a single-payer system would impact quality of care, medical innovation and the pocketbooks of employers and consumers.

The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, the lobbying arm of the state's health insurers, rejects single-payer as a "one-size-fits-all, government-run health care system" that "will eliminate health care options for patients and ignores our state’s universal coverage achievements," according to remarks from CEO Lora Pellegrini.

"At a time when most Massachusetts residents have health insurance coverage, the single-payer debate only distracts from the critical work we must do to control health care costs for employers and consumers across our state," Pellegrini said.

Representatives of the state's health insurance industry, which most single-payer plans would put out of business, said the tax increases needed to fund such a system would leave Massachusetts economically crippled.