Left Looking Toward Vermont's Single-Payer System

Left Looking Toward Vermont's Single-Payer System

Now that ObamaCare is under attack from all sides, the state of Vermont is getting some love from the left because it is considering an even more insidious healthcare alternative to ObamaCare: a “single-payer” system called Green Mountain Care. 

The system would eliminate insurance companies and create a single insurance program run by the government that would collect all fees from consumers and pay for all health care costs. Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin signed the plan to start looking toward a single-payer system in May 2011. The plan promised coverage for Vermont’s 620,000 residents, 47,000 of whom are uninsured and 150,000 underinsured.

 Michael Moore wrote in a December 31 op-ed in the New York Times that Vermont’s plan could “change everything.” He added that Obamacare was problematic because it is a “pro-insurance-industry plan implemented by a president who knew in his heart that a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model was the true way to go.”

Conversely, Vermont state Rep. Patti Komline, who voted against the implementation of Green Mountain Care, told Fox News, “It’s not practical. There are too many complications involved.” 

It could take another three years for Green Mountain Care to be useable; in order to fully launch by 2017, it would need the federal government to approve using federal money for funding. In addition, Vermont law requires that the benefits of Green Mountain Care be clearly delineated and a three-year budget that is less expensive than Vermont’s current health-care system.

University of Virginia public policy professor Raymond Scheppach said it will be five years before Green Mountain Care can be proved viable and if it is better than what currently exists. The plan’s advocates insist that health-care costs would be minimized and the complexities of billing reduced. Opponents note that a single-payer system has numerous flaws, including: lower payments to doctors, which would result in fewer doctors in the field; reducing the ability of doctors to invest in the best equipment; and more limited care because doctors would retire earlier or just leave their jobs.

Green Mountain Care’s creator, Harvard economist William Hsiao, says the plan could save more than $580 million annually and insists that it would save the state 25.3% a year in total health care spending and expand job growth.

But Komline says that even though the bill passed in 2011, the residents of the state won’t be eager to see it implemented and claimed the reason it even passed in 2011 was the small size of the state: “It doesn’t take much money for special interest groups to come in and influence votes. That’s why Vermont was among the first to legalize pot and same-sex marriages.”