Saturday, March 26, 2011

Good News Coming Out Of A State Government? Yeah, Vermont House Passes Single Payer Health Care


Since January we've been getting a very steady stream of news from state governments that is downright ugly-- and not just from runaway fascist regimes in Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Maine, but even in states where middle-of-the-road political hacks should know better than to back Big Business over working families, like New York and California. And that's what DWT covers day in and day out.

Today we have some much more pleasant weekend fare, almost, comapred to the way the rest of the country is going, a fairy tale, in fact. But for Vermonters, it's real. I guess it pays living in a state with an educated and aware citizenry willing to elect officials like Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders, Peter Shumlin, Patrick Leahy and Peter Welch, instead of, say, Mississippi, which is working overtime to limit the access of its citizens-- other than its wealthy ones-- to healthcare. Mississippi Republicans are eager to have drug prices regulated by... well, pharmacists who give big enough political contributions to Republicans to get put on a board. Anyway, Vermont is different from Mississippi (or, for that matter, fellow Yankees in poor teabagged Maine).
Every Vermonter could sign up for state-financed health insurance under a bill passed by the House on Thursday that would put the state on a path to a single-payer health care system by the middle of this decade.

"This bill takes our state one step closer to a system that ensures that all Vermonters have access to the care they deserve and contains costs," House Speaker Shap Smith said shortly after the House passed the bill 92-49.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass, but with some possible changes.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, who made single-payer health care a centerpiece of his gubernatorial campaign last year, also praised the legislation. He said it would make Vermont "the first state in the country to make the first substantive step to deliver a health care system where health care will be a right and not a privilege, where health care will follow the individual, not be a requirement of the employer, and where we'll have an affordable system that contains costs."

Costs are an open question. The bill sets up a five-member state board to design a benefit package to be called Green Mountain Care, but doesn't require the governor to propose a way to pay for it until 2013. That drew fire from minority Republicans in the House, who said the hard part of reform-- paying for it-- won't be tackled until after Shumlin campaigns for a second two-year term in 2012. They also said the bill would create too much uncertainty for businesses in the state.

The bill is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law, despite GOP hysteria by delusional sociopaths like Rep. Thomas Burditt of West Rutland who started braying about Lenin on the House floor, quoting him as saying "medicine is the keystone in the arch of socialism" and conflating that with Vermont's popular healthcare reform initiative. "I believe," droned Burditt, "those who are promoting 'universal coverage' via government-run and government-controlled medicine know this. What they hope is that the public won't find out the truth. There is nothing compassionate about socialism. "

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