Vermont Governor lays out details of health care plan

By Nancy Remsen, 
Free Press Staff 
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Shumlin administration released the legislative
details of how to move the state to a single payer health
care system, with the first steps beginning this summer.

“We are committing to reforms that get us as many of the
benefits of a single payer as possible under current
federal law, and to asking for a waiver from federal law
so that we can gain the full benefits of a single payer
when that option is available,” Anya Rader Wallack,
special assistant to Gov. Peter Shumlin for health care,
told members of House and Senate panels

“I know you have been anxious to receive this proposal and
get to work on the details. I also know you will find
flaws in it,” Wallack said. “We don’t think we have all
the answers, but we think we are putting in front of you a
solid proposal for moving forward with major, meaningful
health reform.”

The plan would move the state through three stages in four
years to reach the target of a single-payer system.

The Shumlin administration proposes the state take two
steps effective July 1: Create a health benefit exchange
or marketplace called for under the federal health care
law and set up a Vemront Health Reform Board to “develop
payment reform and cost containment methodologies that
will result in sustainable rates of growth in health care
spending,” Wallack.

The next phase would begin in 2014 when the health benefit
exchange begins operating. “We propose that we include in
the exchange, at that time, employer groups with fewer
than 100 employees,” Wallack said. “We also propose that
state and municipal employees become part of the exchange,
and that we integrate Medicaid, Medicare and workers’
compensation with exchange policy.”

The state would move to the final stage if and when the
federal government granted Vermont waivers to establish a
single, publicly financed exchange.

“At that point, current premium payments by individuals
and employers in Vermont would be eliminated unless an
employer chose to continue providing health insurance
coverage,” Wallack said. “All Vermonters would receive
coverage by virtue of their residency for a good package
of health care benefits, coverage would not be linked to
employment and most Vermonters would pay into an equitable
system for financing this coverage.”

The bill doesn’t spell out a financing system for the
third stage, but calls for continued research.


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