Vermont legislation proposes single-payer health option.
The proposal has a public governance structure while preserving a limited role for one private insurer. It would integrate the financial relief adopted in the recent federal health care legislation and guarantees all Vermonters have access to a superior benefits package.
According to the report, a public/private option in Vermont would also establish an independent board with representatives from employers, patients, providers and government agencies to oversee a single-payer type structure. Board members would craft a budget for the system, recommend updates to payment rates and benefit packages.
“This is a system that could work to significantly reduce costs, cover everyone and control health cost escalation with minimum disruption,” Hsiao said. “It provides an ‘essential’ benefits package, is administered by an independent board with diverse representation and it employs a competitively selected third party to manage provider relations and claims adjudication and processing.”
Under the public/private system, all Vermonters would receive dental and vision coverage. Most employers and employees would ultimately pay less than through private insurance companies.
However, incorporating such a health plan in the state would require the privatized industry to adapt and evolve. Hsiao said they cannot estimate the full effect, but it is likely to make certain private insurance functions (such as sales and marketing) obsolete in Vermont, causing them to leave the state.
Speaking before a packed House chamber on Wednesday, the Harvard doctor said Vermont has not been able to provide high-quality, affordable health care to all its residents.
The recommended public/private system was selected as the most feasible because it is the most likely to be accepted by a broad cross-section of Vermonters. Where opposition to a single-payer plan is rooted in transparency and accountability concerns, the suggested option addresses those issues by compromising with private interests to create a system keeping with equal coverage and sustainable outcomes.
Gov. Peter Shumlin said moving toward a single-payer plan, with or without a limited role for private insurers, will save the state significant money in the long run.
“Dr. Hsiao estimated that a single-payer plan with a limited role for a private insurer would save $500 million in the first year of operation, and a government-run single-payer plan would save between $50 million and $100 million,” the governor said. “That’s very good news for Vermonters who are being forced to spend $1 million more tomorrow than we did today on health care.”
Great news for Vermont! Wow, this state could even make money in this deal as well. I hope other states follow suit. It may be a good way to reduce shortfalls in states budgets as well.
Somewhere in the White House, Obama is smiling with delight.