Vermont Gov. Shumlin signs bill to move state one step closer to single-payer health care
Not even rainy weather could stop Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-Vt.) from enjoying an hour-long ceremony that concluded with the signing of H.202, a law that creates a health care exchange and a medical oversight board to move the state a step closer to a single-payer model.
The bill was signed Thursday morning on the State House lawn following an hour of speeches by key state legislators and advocates that helped write the bill, including Cassandra Gekas of VPERG, House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Vt.), and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell (D-Vt.).
The bill addresses some of the major cost issues that contribute to health care inflation. The to-be formed exchange system will allow insurance seekers to compare costs of insurers and inform buyers of any available subsidies and tax credits. It will also move health providers away from the fee-for-service model of payment, which recompenses health care professionals for every service they offer even if its usefulness is unclear. Instead, the bill will gear towards a ‘global capitated payment’ system that asks providers to work within the budget established by the legislature. The ultimate goal — a single payer system in which every Vermonter is guaranteed basic coverage — will help drive costs down considerably by eliminating much of the administrative overhead that follows multi-insurance health systems.
For Vermont to adequately fund and implement H.202, the federal government must agree to grant the state a set of waivers that would permit administrators to establish state-specific models that depart from federal health programs. Federal health reform passed in 2010 includes provisions that reward states for innovating new health systems that offer improved care. A campaign led by progressive news blog FireDogLake is asking federal Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to grant Vermont these waivers.