by Rob Roper
The uncertainty surrounding H.202, the single payer health care bill, leaves some of Vermont’s largest and best paying employers wondering if they’ll be stuck with some costly, unattractive options. These employers, including IBM, GE, General Dynamics, and many others, currently insure 107,000 Vermonters. House Republicans held a press conference to explain how and why this bill could cost Vermont some of its best paying jobs, and to challenge Democratic leaders to remove some of the economic uncertainty surrounding the health care bill by promising to exempt self-insuring companies from having to “pay twice” for health care.
One reporter, Dave Gram of the Associated Press, points out in the question and answer session that proponents believe that there is no chance of a single payer program being financially viable if these employers and their employees are not forced to participate.
Rep. Jim Eckhardt (R-Chittenden) replied, “Then we have two economic problems that are going to hit us. Not only the exit of the insurance companies, but we could face a much worse one. That’s the exit of our bigger employers…. I had a two hour meeting with GE on Monday. They made it quite clear to me that they compete against other GE plants…. If we make this plant too expensive to operate here, there isn’t anything in that warehouse or anything in that industrial complex that can’t be put on a flatbed truck and moved someplace else.”