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Monday, 02 December 2013 09:47

"Single-Payer" Healthcare for Vermont on Track for 2017

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

avermont12 2Amidst the difficulties of rolling out the private insurance company model of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), it has almost gone unnoticed by the national corporate media that one state is going ahead with plans for a "single-payer" non-profit system to be implemented by 2017.

Back in 2011, the Vermont legislature passed and Governor Peter Shumlin (D) signed the "single-payer" goal into law, which has its signifying slogan: "Everybody in, nobody out."

This "Medicare for all" precedent was made possible by the latitude allowed in the ACA for states to create their own health insurance models. 

Currently, Vermont is implementing the ACA as work is being done to figure out the best way of financing it by combining federal funds with new state taxes.  The governor has brought on a young financial whiz kid, Michael Costa, to work on a politically passable form of funding single-payer by its implementation date. (The additional state cost is generally expected to be between $1.5 and 2 billion dollars, which is misleading because it doesn't account for the likely eventual cost savings of the program.)

The website OccupyDemocrats.com praises the Vermont plans:

A single-payer system would all but eliminate anybody dying unnecessarily due to lack of access to healthcare.  Our Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  How can somebody have life and happiness, without their health? 

Despite the glaring hypocrisy of rich, white males who owned slaves stating all men are created equal, we have come a long way from 1776.  Yet when it comes to the very basic need, we are left to the whim of a business.  Single-payer is inevitable, and the ACA is a giant step in that direction.  We must hold our officials to a higher standard which will get us there faster.  45,000 people [dying a year in the United States because of lack of health insurance] is absolutely unacceptable.  Vermont saw the writing on the wall. 

Will the rest of us?

As the website notes, Vermont was the first state to legally back marriage equality through legislation* -- and that right is slowly but steadily being passed by many states.

The Green Mountain State hopefully is taking the lead on Medicare for all.  It's an important start that should not go unnoticed as the ACA goes through its shakeout period.

* VERMONT - In 2009, Vermont became the first state to legalize gay marriage by legislative means. Vermont in 2000 had become the first state to allow civil unions for gay couples. After the state legislature passed the measure, Governor Jim Douglas vetoed it. Legislators then voted to override his veto." -- Reuters

UPDATE: In an e-mail to BuzzFlash at Truthout, Dr. Margaret Flowers, a nationally known advocate for single-payer health coverage -- and a writer with Kevin Zeese often appearing on Truthout -- argued that although Vermont is aiming for universal coverage, it cannot achieve a pure single-payer status. That is because national government insurance such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans care, along with the potential continuation of private insurance companies, would mean that the full cost savings of a pure single-payer federal system won't likely be achieved. 

(Photo: DonkeyHotey)