Swing vote in senate committee likely to vote for health care bill

by Angela Chagnon

Sen. Sally Fox

If there was ever a potential for a swing vote in the Senate Health & Welfare Committee over single payer health care, Senator Sally Fox (D-Chittenden) was it. Angela Chagnon caught up with Senator Fox to see what she’s thinking.

True North Reports: Senator Fox, you’ve heard a lot of testimony from business owners and now healthcare providers…

Senator Sally Fox: And a lot from consumers as well.

TNR: What’s your opinion on the healthcare bill? Do you think you’ll support it?

SF: Um…yeah, I’m on the Health and Welfare Committee of the Senate, so we’ve been working on the bill since the beginning of the session, we’ve heard hours and hours of testimony and we’ll be changing the bill in response to a lot of the testimony we’ve heard, and we’re trying to incorporate the concerns that businesses have, and you know, and all the constituents we’ve heard from, but ultimately I’m confident that there will be a bill that I’ll support. Yeah.

TNR: Are there any amendments that you are thinking of introducing, or that you would want…

SF: So, we’ve put…we made hundreds of…I really think hundreds of changes already on the bill as a committee. Um, I and Senator Pollina are working on an amendment to change the duties of the board, and compared to what the state government is doing, to make sure that the function of the board is to make decisions based upon information that comes to it and not necessarily participate in the development of the various plans that it’s going to have to make a decision on. And I think that will strengthen public confidence in the board, and its decision-making is going to be totally transparent and public.

TNR: This plan that the board is going to put together for everyone else, will they be part of that plan also?

SF: Every Vermonter ultimately will be…every citizen in Vermont will have the access to health insurance at the end of the process which is…could be years away, 2017. So, all you have to be in order to be eligible for Green Mountain Care is a citizen of Vermont.

TNR: Do you support supplemental policies, people buying these from private insurance companies?

SF: I think that, you know, depending on what the benefit package ultimately is, we don’t know that yet, some of it depends on what the Federal government is going to set out, some of it will be designed ultimately by the board. You know, there probably will be some folks who will want to supplement that with additional coverage, and nothing in this bill prohibits them from doing that.

TNR: Do you know if that’s been factored into the cost containment estimates?

SF: Everything is going to be factored into the financing plan and the cost containment. It’s a plan that’s going to be, you know, there’s going to be a design of what we want to have included in the benefit package, some of it we have no choice, the Federal government is going to say that, but, uh, yeah, I mean this is all about cost and making this affordable.