Committee agrees on health care bill Speaker Smith: Vermont is “Saskatchewan of the United States”

by Angela Chagnon

Minutes after the H.202 Conference Committee signed off on the healthcare bill, Democrats gathered for a press conference to congratulate themselves on the “historic” legislation.

During that conference, Speaker of the House Shap Smith (D-Morristown) declared:

“We know that this is just the first step in the process. And we know that this will be a multi-year journey. But, we know that such a process started in Saskatchewan, a province of Canada, in the 1940’s and fifties, and led to a system of universal healthcare in that country. And I believe that Vermont can be the Saskatchewan of the United States. And I look forward to us moving toward a universal healthcare system in the state of Vermont.”

Saskatchewan, Canada is considered the birthplace of the single-payer system.

Senator Hinda Miller (D-Chittenden), a member of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S. When asked about Smith’s Saskatchewan comment, Miller said that Saskatchewan in the 1940’s was “a different era, with different forces” at play.

“We can all be legends in our own minds,” Miller remarked. She said she believed the final version of the bill was a “good planning document” and that the next legislation session would be very important for issues regarding job creation and for creating the insurance exchange outlined in the bill.

Although she stated that she believes whatever reform that comes out of the bill “will be for the better, Miller also noted that, through her family members in Canada, she could see the “plusses and trade-offs” of the single-payer system.

“We haven’t even begun to talk about the trade-offs,” she said.