Who’s who on the conference committee

House and senate leaders made their appointments to the conference committee that will iron out the differences between the health care bills passed by the respective chambers. Speaker of the House, Shap Smith (D-Morrisville) chose not to appoint a single Republican to the committee. Senator Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland), the only Republican to vote in favor of the legislation, will participate from the Senate.

So, who are these six folks who hold our fate in their hands?

From the House

Rep. Mark Larson (D-Burlington) is the Chairman of the House Health Care Committee. Larson stated repeatedly that he believes moving forward with this legislation will save Vermont $1 trillion over the next ten years – or, in other words, 180 years worth of health care costs at current levels. Outside of the State House, Larson works as Director of the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative and is a consultant to the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. mlarson@leg.state.vt.us.

Rep. Mike Fisher (D-Lincoln) is the Vice Chairman of the House Health Care Committee. Fisher was one of the representatives who, though non a doctor, took the Doctors’ survey on health care reform, contaminating the results. Fisher is an outreach social worker for the Addison County Parent/Child Center working with Teenage Parents and their children. mfisher@leg.state.vt.us

Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford) is a substitute teacher (trained as a secondary science teacher), who, according to her bio, works “occasionally in the family business.” Shap Smith explained his choice of Copland-Hansas due, in part, to her experience as a small business owner of a coffee shop.

From the Senate

Sen. Claire Ayer (D-Addison), chairwoman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. She is a registered nurse with a degree in environmental studies from Middlebury College. cayer@leg.state.vt.us

Sen. Sally Fox (D-Chittenden) sits on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. She is an attorney. sfox@leg.state.vt.us

Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland) also sits on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. He was the only Republican to vote in favor of H.202. He did so only after passage of his amendment ensuring that Green Mountain Care could only go forward if determined it would not harm the economy, would reduce costs based on the national rate of inflation for health care, and all Vermonters would receive a certain level of benefits. Mullin indicated that if the conference committee acted to remove these provisions, he would not be likely to support the final bill. Mullin is currently the owner of Finger Lakes Drive-in. He has a degree in business and finance from Castleton College. kjmbjm@aol.com