AUGUSTA – The Senate killed a bill Thursday that would have authorized a study into whether government-run health care is feasible in Maine, as opponents cautioned against any move toward a new system just days after significant insurance changes had been enacted.

The Senate vote was 19-16 on the bill, which would have updated past studies.

Supporters of the study said that the state would have incurred no expense and that the study would not have committed it to any new system.

“All the bill does is, it gives us a chance to run the numbers,” said Sen. Philip Bartlett, D-Gorham. “Why are we afraid of that study? Are we afraid to learn something new?”

Democratic Sen. Joseph Brannigan of Portland also spoke in favor of the study, saying a single-payer system covering many Mainers — Medicare — is already in effect.

“I am of the age where the government runs my insurance, and does it very well,” Brannigan said.

Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill Tuesday that creates a new high-risk pool, expands coverage options for smaller businesses and makes other changes in Maine’s largely privately run insurance system.

Maine Sen. Lois Snowe-Mello, R-Poland, said past studies have shown a single-payer system to be “totally unaffordable.”

“We are moving toward an excellent plan,” Snowe-Mello said.

Meanwhile, Vermont is moving toward a single-payer system that would provide public health care to all residents, regardless of income, much like what military personnel have now.

A powerful new state board will work out details of the new system, including how to pay for it.