Press Release: Vermonters for Health care Freedom
In a stunning admission, the Shumlin Administration has endorsed the Vermont Workers Center plan to pay for Single Payer health care by increasing the personal income tax, a payroll tax and a new corporate tax.
Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding’s endorsement of the Workers Center Plan directly contradicts recent statements by Governor Shumlin and those he made during the campaign when he said he wanted to supplement his financing plan with other funding sources so that he can significantly reduce the burden on employers. “So that it’s not sitting on the backs of businesses who then are unable to invest in technology in new hires, in research and development, all the things that American and Vermont businesses should be doing to grow jobs for the future,” Shumlin said on July 16, 2012 on Vermont Public Radio.
Now we know that individuals and Vermont businesses will see their tax bills increase to pay for single payer health care. Both the Workers Center and the administration refuse to provide details on how this will be funded. Assuming the lion’s share comes from the income tax, depending upon whether the state embraces the Workers Center philosophy or simply replaces individual and employer premium contributions, income tax rates must increase three to five-fold to cover current costs.
“Governor Shumlin got one thing right – we are going to lose the jobs battle. Vermont’s economy has been shedding jobs. Placing the tax burden on employers and individuals will result in accelerating job losses and Vermonters fleeing the state to avoid paying these skyrocketing taxes”, said Jeff Wennberg, Executive Director for Vermonters For Health Care Freedom. “Furthermore, given the governor’s emphasis on controlling health care spending it is mystifying that his secretary of administration would endorse a plan based upon the principle that everyone has a right to any health care service at any time, and the state is required to raise taxes to any level necessary to meet that demand.”
Spaulding’s comments also contradict recent statements by the governor regarding VHAP and Catamount enrollees who face dramatic increases in out of pocket costs when the state moves these low income Vermonters onto the Health Benefits Exchange in 2014. The state expects to save $10 to $15 million from the switch, but the Administration admits that the 17,000 affected individuals will be forced to pay up to $18 million per year in additional health care costs. When challenged by low income advocates to provide relief, Shumlin said the state did not have $18 million available to hold these people harmless.
“Does Shumlin endorse the notion of “free health care for all,” as his secretary of administration implies, or does he support the concept that individual Vermonters – even low income Vermonters – assume some financial responsibility for their care?” Wennberg asked.
“There are a lot of Vermonters who fear this push to single-payer will do more harm than good, to employers, providers and the citizens of our state,” continued Wennberg. “We have already heard that there are primary care physicians and specialists who are moving out of state, and every employer in the state is on pins and needles waiting for the funding proposal to come out. If the Governor’s intent was to create a climate of fear and uncertainty among Vermont’s doctors, employers and citizens, he is certainly achieving his goal,” concluded Wennberg.