'Universal' Healthcare System
The Washington Times
As states open insurance marketplaces amid uncertainty about whether they're a solution for healthcare, Vermont is eying a bigger goal, one that more fully embraces a government-funded model.
The state has a planned 2017 launch of the nation's first universal healthcare system, a sort of modified Medicare-for-all that has long been a dream for many liberals.
The plan is especially ambitious in the current atmosphere surrounding healthcare in the United States. Republicans in Congress balk at the federal health overhaul years after it was signed into law. States are still negotiating their terms for implementing it. And some major employers have begun to drastically limit their offerings of employee health insurance, raising questions about the future of the industry altogether.
In such a setting, Vermont's plan looks more and more like an anomaly. It combines universal coverage with new cost controls in an effort to move away from a system in which the more procedures doctors and hospitals perform, the more they get paid, to one in which providers have a set budget to care for a set number of patients.
The result will be healthcare that's "a right and not a privilege," Gov. Peter Shumlin said.
Where some governors have backed off the politically charged topic of healthcare, Shumlin recently surprised many by digging more deeply into it. In an interview with a newspaper's editorial board, he reversed himself somewhat on earlier comments that Vermont would wait to figure out how to pay for the new system. He said he expects a payroll tax to be a main source of funding, giving for the first time a look at how he expects the plan to be paid for.
The reasons tiny Vermont may be ripe for one of the costliest and most closely watched social experiments of its time?
It's the most liberal state in the country, according to Election Day exit polls. Democrats hold the governor's office and big majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
It has a tradition of activism. Several times in recent years, hundreds of people have rallied in Montpelier for a campaign advocating that healthcare is a human right.
It's small. With a population of about 626,000 and just 15 hospitals, all nonprofits, Vermont is seen by policy experts as a manageable place to launch a universal healthcare project...
The nation is focused on the rollout of the state-based health insurance marketplaces and the disastrous unveiling of healthcare.gov. In the meantime, Vermont's efforts have largely gone unnoticed, said Chapin White, a researcher with the Washington-based Center for Studying Health System Change.
"Vermont's thinking about 2017, and the rest of the country is just struggling with 2014 right now," White said.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 10/26/2013
Editor's Note: And let's remember that the people of Vermont have elected, to multiple terms, a self-avowed Socialist to represent them in the US Senate...
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