In classic veal pen fashion Families USA is working against Vermont’s attempts to  get the waivers,as soon as possible,  it would need to  move the state towards a single payer health care system. Families USA does claim to support Vermont’s reform effort, but just happens to opposes the very law needed to help make it happen in a timely manner. From

Kathleen D. Stoll, deputy executive director of health policy for Families USA, was in Central Vermont last week to talk with single-payer supporters, Democratic leaders and members of the Shumlin administration about her organization’s views on how Vermont’s push for waivers could undermine the Affordable Care Act. Stoll said the new national health care reform law is vulnerable to the whims of Tea Party activists who were elected on a wave of anti-government sentiment that crested with the November congressional election.


Stoll said the Brown-Wyden amendment, which would give states waivers to opt-out of the exchanges in 2014, could undercut the Affordable Care Act and open the door for states like Georgia to bypass requirements to offer adequate insurance.

Given the current political climate in Washington, she said, the waiver could “wipe out” the exchanges and result in “a completely unregulated market.”

“We want Vermont covered, but not at the expense of other states,” Stoll said.

Currently state can’t get a full waiver from the Affordable Care Act into 2017. This means Vermont would need to waste time and money setting up the exchange systems for the years 2014-2016 only to switch to another system in 2017.

That is why Vermont’s Congressional delegation is working to pass the Brown-Wyden bill to move up the waiver start date to 2014. Sadly Families USA, the self proclaimed “voice for health care consumers” is undercutting the effort to adopt the first truly progressive health system in American.

A pathetic justification for Standing in the way of progressive reform

This “look out scary tea party” justification from Families USA for opposed the waiver move up and impeding Vermont’s efforts is truly pathetic. The law says the state can only get the waiver if the state’s alternative will be as effective or more effective than ACA. In addition the wavier would need to be approved by HHS, which would be under the control of President Obama in 2014 if he wins re-election. I highly doubt Obama would approve any tea party backed waivers that would destroy his signature law. Nor do I think Obama would have actually endorsed the Wyden-Brown bill if it was a real threat to ACA.

While Families USA move is disappointing it is hardly surprising. Families USA has a long history of teaming up with the drug lobby, PhRMA on multi-million dollar efforts and their executive director, Ron Pollack now also runs Enroll America, a non-profit funded by the private health insruance lobby AHIP, which has the goal of getting as many people as possible using the exchanges created by ACA to buy AHIP’s products.

It just happens that if Vermont actually establishes a single payer like system, it would be a big lose for both the national brand name drug companies and the national private insurance companies.

By stopping the moving up of the waiver date not only means the opponents of the reform will get at least three more years to try to stop it from being implemented at the state level, but if history is any guide there is a highly probability a Republican will be president in 2017. And it is safe to assume a Republican administration is going to be less helpful with helping Vermont achieve progressive health care reform.


Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at