Wrong Direction

As a recent Freeps article points out: “Gov. Peter Shumlin wants to make Catamount a wholly state-run program as a way to save $6.1 million in nine months. The change is part of Shumlin’s strategy to address a $176 million gap between projected revenues and spending trends next year.

It appears that the program is having a little problem with financial sustainability: “The program’s costs — $29.8 million this year — outstrip the revenues dedicated to it. The Catamount Fund receives money from monthly premiums, a share of the cigarette tax, an assessment on employers and federal matching funds. Those sources fell $7.8 million short this year, so lawmakers had to provide supplementary tax dollars to make up the shortfall.

As the article points out, this problem was foreseen: House Republican Leader Don Turner of Milton reminds that “Republicans questioned the finances right from the beginning.”

Indeed, free market critics of the Catamount Health Plan referred to it as a single payer system on an installment plan.  Catamount follows a trend of trying to fix our health care woes by introducing more government intervention in the health care market.  Here is a study of how Vermont was one of eight states that destroyed its insurance market by experimenting with community rating and guaranteed issue.  Now we want to fix the mess we have created by  introducing yet more government involvement in the health care market.  Perhaps we should reverse course and pursue the kind of free market reforms recommended by the Ethan Allen Institute here.