The single-payer healthcare bill that the Shumlin Administration proposed now has a number: H.202. The official sponsor is Rep. Mark Larson (D-Burlington).
Special Assistant to the Governor for Health Care, Anya Rader Wallack, and Robin Lunge of BISHCA presented their testimony on H.202 in a joint meeting of the Senate Health & Welfare and the House Health Care Committees.
Lunge outlined the three stages of Health Reform in her written testimony: Exchange, Single Payer Exchange, and then Single Payer. The “building blocks” she lists for creating this system are the Blueprint for Health, Health information technology, the creation of the Vermont Health Reform Board and Vermont Health Benefit Exchange, and a single-payer healthcare system called “Green Mountain Care”. Two of the goals for this year are to “lay the structural foundation for a ‘single payer exchange'” and to “make a clear commitment to multi-year reforms that will create a ‘real’ single payer” system, which, according to Lunge, “includes all Vermonters, is publicly financed and is decoupled from employment.”
Anya Rader Wallack testified that, “There is a crisis in our health care system”. She lists the reasons as, “1) it costs too much, 2) Costs are not distributed equitably, 3) We don’t get the highest possible value for our money, and 4) People are left out.”
“We have three commercial carriers, plus two public payers, plus numerous workers’ compensation carriers,” Wallack writes in the report presented to the committees. “Each has their own system of doing things and each tries, in its own ineffective way, to control health care costs. This craziness must stop.”
Shumlin’s proposal would involve “three stages of reform spanning at least four years.” Starting July 1, 2011, the Shumlin administration wants to create a “health benefit exchange” and a “Vermont Health Care Reform Board to develop payment reform and cost containment methodologies that will result in sustainable rates of growth in health care spending.”
“These are not enormous new bureaucracies: we propose using mostly existing positions to staff these entities,” Wallack said of the Vermont Health Reform Board. Her written testimony did not mention why those in the “existing positions” had enough free time on their hands to take on the new tasks.
Just what is the “exchange” that is being referred to? “The Exchange is intended to serve as a marketplace where people within the state can compare and purchase health insurance,” Wallack explains. “We believe that the benefits of the exchange – federal funds to design and build it, federal funds to replace our aged technology for Medicaid claims processing and enrollment, and federal funds to subsidize uninsured Vermonters – make it worth operating within the constraints.”
“We also propose maximizing the use of federal grant monies available to design and implement the exchange to provide necessary resources in the short term,” Wallack says.
Translation: There is no possible way we can afford this bureaucratic nightmare, so we’ll just send the bill to the Federal government. The other 49 states will be happy to foot the bill for us, it’s not like they’re using the money for anything.
Wallack’s report goes on to say that the exchange is not operational until the second stage, which will be in 2014. “At that point federal tax credits become available to reduce the price of coverage for uninsured individuals up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($43,320 for an individual).”
“This proposal will not satisfy those who take a narrow perspective,” Wallack said before presenting Shumlin’s recommendations. Perhaps Wallack was referring to those “narrow minded” people who want to know exactly how Shumlin plans to pay for a single-payer healthcare system.
Neither Wallack’s report nor the healthcare bill, H.202, discloses how the plan will be funded. Section 9(a) of the bill reads, “The secretary of administration or designee shall recommend two financing plans to the house committees on health care and on ways and means and the senate committees on health and welfare and on finance no later than January 15, 2013.” (p. 50)
Wallack’s report reads, “We are wasting money. Too much of the enormous amount we pay goes to administration, duplication, unnecessary or unproven care and inefficient care delivery.”
So let’s let the government take the reins and show us how it’s done. You know, the ones who gave us the IRS, the DMV, Social Security, the Postal Service, Cash for Clunkers…
Thomas Jefferson once said, “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”