30 May 2011

Vermont leads the way toward single-payer health care

Excerpts from an article in the Burlington Free Press:
Three second-year medical students wearing white jackets stood on the edge of a crowd of more than 200 people who had come to watch Gov. Peter Shumlin sign a law that puts Vermont on the road toward a consolidated health care system, publicly financed and covering all Vermont residents.

“We were really involved in trying to pass this bill,” Therese Ray said. “There is a lot of support among medical students across the country.”..

“We gather here today to sign into the law the first single-payer health care system in America,” Shumlin said. He acknowledged the work that remains to turn the intention set out in the bill into reality... Under the new law, the state won’t jump to a government-financed system soon. It’s likely to be five years before such a change could take place. Instead, the law sets in motion dozens of studies intended to inform decision-makers that include the Legislature and a new regulatory board to be formed later this year.

It’s all the yet-to-be answered questions and the powerful board the law establishes that worry Patricia McDonald, chairwoman of the Vermont Republican Party. She stood near the medical students, but without their enthusiasm for the occasion.

“I haven’t heard anything that would change my mind,” McDonald said following the 50 minutes of speeches that preceded the signing of the bill. “If anything, we are just as strong in our concern about the details.”

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