Health care moves to the senate

by Rob Roper

Sen. John Campbell

The Burlington Free Press editorial page trumpeted the passage of the single payer health care bill, H.202 with the headline, “Take a step toward health care reform.” The Free Press acknowledges that there are many questions about cost, a payment mechanism, giving so much power to a board of five people… but what the hell. Let’s do this thing.

The Free Press is right in one respect, however. They say, “The key is to hold the Gov. Shumlin to his pledge that he would refuse to endorse any plan that would end up costing Vermonters more than they now pay for health care.”

Absolutely. But let’s think about this for a second. According to Dr. Hsiao’s report, if we give everyone in the state an “essential” benefits package, we’ll save roughly 2% on what we’re spending now. If we give everyone a “comprehensive” benefits package, we’d break the bank. It’s unaffordable and unsustainable.

But the Municipal employees union has said it supports a single payer plan, but only so long as everyone gets the same plan they currently get. That’s a comprehensive plan. Can’t afford it. Not going to happen unless the governor is a liar.

The teachers’ unions are only on board if they can keep their collective bargaining rights – and their Cadillac benefits packages. Same problem as above. If they get this, then we end up spending more than we currently do, and the governor has pledged to veto any such legislation (and the state’s largest paper has pledged to “hold the Gov.” to it.

And then there’s the 107,000 Vermonters covered by ERISA. If they’re employers are forced to pay twice, those combined payments will blow the top off of current spending levels. Don’t let the Governor sign that bill either, Free Press.

We’re about to pour $1.2 million down a rat hole, paying five really “smart people” to explore the possibility of whether or not we can repeal the law of gravity.

The bill, H.202, passed the House and is now in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Let’s hope the senators will ask a few harder questions and get many more solid answers than their counterparts in the lower chamber.

Members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee include:

Sen. Claire Ayer (D-Addison), Chair

Sen. Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland), Vice Chair

Sen. Anthony Pollina (D-Washington), Clerk

Sen. Sally Fox (D-Chittenden)

Sen. Hinda Miller (D-Chittenden)