Bill That Moves Vermont Closer to Single Payer Approved by State House
Yesterday evening, the Vermont House of Representatives passed H.202, which will move the state toward adopting a single-payer-like universal health care system for all the people of Vermont. From the Brattleboro Reformer:
The Vermont House of Representatives passed a bill calling for a single-payer system Thursday afternoon, putting the state on a path to become the first in the nation to adopt universal access to health care.
Lawmakers voted 92 to 49 after nearly two days of debate, including discussion on the floor until the early morning hours on Thursday.
The measure also designs a four-year timeframe to establish a publicly funded system, beginning with the creation of the Green Mountain Care Board on July 1 with a budget of $1.2 million. The five-member board will design a more sensible payment plan for health care providers, control the overall cost to align it closer to Vermonters’ ability to pay and recommend a benefit package for every resident.
The law will now go to the Senate where, given the large Democratic majorities, it is also likely to pass.
If signed into law, the bill will move Vermont much closer to eventually having a single-payer-like system, but there will still be several big hurdles before it becomes reality. In 2013, the governor will be required to come up with a funding mechanism for the program, which will likely be a very contentious political fight. In addition, to make the plan viable, the state will need to get waivers from the new health care law and those currently won’t be available until 2017, when there is a high probability that a Republican will be in the White House.
While the small state of Vermont has just taken a historic step toward possibly showing the whole country how to achieve a fairer, less wasteful and much cheaper health care system, there are still potential problems that could derail this achievement.