Supreme Court Ruling Places Limits on Vermont Health Care Reform

Vermonters for Health Care Freedom Executive Director Jeff Wennberg released the following statement regarding the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that essentially upholds the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“The Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act is a mixed blessing for Governor Shumlin and single payer advocates. On the one hand, the federal subsidy funding that Green Mountain Care so desperately needs was preserved. On the other hand, the Governor’s desire to implement his government monopoly health care system prior to 2017 appears to be beyond reach, since the ACA prohibits the issuance of waivers – which Green Mountain Care requires – until then.

The waiver issue illustrates an underlying complication that the Supreme Court’s decision presents. Now that the ACA is settled federal law, the regulation of health insurance, which has historically been the province of the states, has now been preempted by the federal government. Experimentation at the state level is limited to those areas not addressed by the ACA. In upholding the constitutionality of the ACA, the Supreme Court has said that any aspect of health care or health care financing in which the feds chose to act is now off limits to the states.

Governor Shumlin’s single payer program reaches dramatically beyond the ACA and potentially other federal statutes. We have already pointed out how the reform law signed by the governor last month is in direct conflict with the now-settled ACA. Vermonters for Health Care Freedom will examine these and other potential conflicts to ensure that the implementation of Green Mountain Care does not violate these new federal requirements.

Finally, now that the federal ACA subsidy and tax credit funding appears secure, we once again call upon Governor Shumlin to release his budget and financing plan for Green Mountain Care before the fall elections.