Shumlin Will Pursue Single-Payer Health Care, Regardless Of Court Decision

06/27/12 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel
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Gov. Peter Shumlin is applauded on the steps of the Statehouse prior to signing the health care bill in May 2011.

Gov. Shumlin insists that the Court's ruling will have a limited impact on his vision of creating a single payer health care system in Vermont.

Because Vermont law already incorporates many of the insurance provisions of the Affordable Care Act, those protections will remain in effect in Vermont if the Court strikes them down in the federal law.

But if the court rules that the subsidies in the law are unconstitutional, then Vermont stands to lose several hundred million dollars a year for a program that's designed to make coverage more affordable for middle income people.

Even if that happens, Shumlin says his fight for single payer will continue. "Vermont is going to continue to pursue the smartest, universal single payer health care system in America that spends less money on health care contains the rate of growth," said Shumlin. "So that we can have our companies and middle class Vermonters invest in other things like their kids education, groceries, sneakers for the kids, hiring new employees."

Vermont currently spends about $5 billion a year on health care expenses. Shumlin says that number will double in ten years if steps aren't taken to control costs and he argues that the single payer approach is the best way to restrain spending. "The cost of health care will kill us. It will kill our ability to compete for jobs with everybody that we're competing with in the globe," said Shumlin. " So we're going to continue regardless of what 5 Supreme Court Justices say down in Washington and I'm convinced that when we get it right in Vermont the other 49 states are going to wish that they were we."

And Shumlin is convinced that Vermont can design its own unique health care system based on the experience of dozens of countries that utilize a single payer approach. "We might not all like all of their systems but they're spending two to three hundred percent less on health care than we are and they have better outcomes, it means that they are healthier than we are," said Shumlin. "So there's all kinds of room to grow and change and make progress here let's make it together. Forget the Supreme Court."

Under the Affordable Care Act, Vermont would be eligible to implement a single payer system starting in 2017. But Administration officials say that date could be moved up if the Supreme Court strikes down the entire Affordable Care Act.


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