Vermont to go Single Payer?

By John McClaughry of Vermont’s Ethan Allen Institute

Dr. William Hsaio of the Harvard School of Public Health has just delivered his long awaited recommendations for installing a single payer health care system in Vermont.

Newly elected Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin has enthusiastically supported single payer and welcomed the Hsaio report. He has hired Anya Rader Wallack, the architect of Gov. Howard Dean’s 1994 health care collapse, to head his “dream team” of health care wizards to implement some form of Hsaio’s recommendations. The Senate is 22-8 Democratic and the House is 102-48 Democrat + Progressive.

At last the great moment has come when, in Hsaio’s words, “Vermont can show the way forward [sic] for the rest of the United States.”

So far as I know there is no indigenous organized opposition to the Shumlin-Hsaio
program. With a Governor and large legislative majorities eager to vote Yes on a package of their own design, every affected group has little choice but to try to cut their own best deal – or, in some cases, begin retirement or relocation planning.

Since Gov. Howard Dean drove out the insurance carriers in 1992 (community rating, guaranteed issue), Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Vermont, the principal beneficiary of that legislation, is the only remaining small group and non group carrier. It is also a ward of the state, and surely sees its future role as administering the Hsaio-Shumlin single payer plan.

The Vermont Congressional delegation – all enthusiastic supporters – held a news conference to announce they would see to it that Vermont gets a waiver from Obamacare to allow it to impose this system ASAP, instead of waiting until 2017 as required by PPACA.

What would help us most is a concise, pungent critique of Hsaio’s report (especially Option 3, the “public/private partnership single payer plan”) by some respected analyst with a PhD in health care economics.

I have the capacity to present a critique of it, but do not have the academic credentials to get serious attention. Furthermore, EAI has long been viewed (and denounced) here as anachronistically committed to right wing free market gospel, and thus irrelevant. (“Freedom? You think that will work?”)

EAI can not identify any 501c4 or business groups who might form a Citizens Committee to Save Our Health Care. EAI does not lobby legislators, other than to put policy briefs in their mail boxes.

I put all this to you so that you will understand that the socialist health care aliens have landed here in Vermont, co-opted the brains of the indigenous inhabitants, and injected a large dose of dangerous spores into the Petri dish. If enacted here, this infection will be heading your way soon.

Your help would be appreciated – even just publicizing this infection.