Debate Over Single Payer Continues

Date: April 16, 2014

Last week, the House Committee on Health began discussion of S.252, a Senate passed bill which aims to provide more clarity to what Vermont’s proposed single payer healthcare system (Green Mountain Care) would look like.  Act 48, the original statute that set Vermont on a course toward a publicly financed, universal health care system, required Governor Shumlin to provide a financing plan for Green Mountain Care by January 1, 2013. After missing that deadline last year, the Governor promised to provide a plan during the 2014 legislative session.  However, earlier this year he retracted that promise and stated that no plan would be made public until January 2015.  Many legislators, from all political parties are growing very frustrated by the lack of details surrounding Green Mountain Care, especially since the proposed single payer system is estimated to cost $2.2 billion and is due to begin on January 1, 2017. As recently as last week, Senate President John Campbell (D-Windsor County) publically expressed concerns and doubts about the direction of Vermont’s health care reform efforts.  Senator Campbell even suggested that a ‘Plan B’ should be explored in case single payer reform does not work out.

To begin to get answers, Senate Finance Committee Chair Tim Ashe, D/P Burlington, recently proposed S.252, requiring the Shumlin Administration to address some of the important details of single payer reform by certain dates.  It would generally place firmer timeline and reporting requirements on the Administration and ideally, move things along so that Vermonters could determine whether a single payer plan would even be workable.  Key provisions of the bill call for providing greater clarity to what the benefits package would look like under Green Mountain Care and what entity should administer the system.  Perhaps most importantly, Senator Ashe's bill calls for the Agency of Human Services to enter into a contract with an "independent, nonpartisan project management entity" to provide oversight of the implementation of Green Mountain Care.  NFIB/VT believes this makes the most sense. At an annual cost of upwards of $2.2 billion, this huge endeavor is far too important to be left to partisan politics.

The House, however, is prepared to strip out many of S.252’s safeguards, including the independent oversight of Green Mountain Care. The full text of Senator Ashe's bill can be found here: S.252

Contact your legislator(s) as soon as possible, if you support gaining greater clarity and providing better safeguards, including independent oversight, of Green Mountain Care.

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