Vermont pulls single-payer plan

Maple syrup may continue be on the table for many Vermonters, but single-payer healthcare no longer is.

Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) earlier this week said he will pull the plug for now on his state's unique plan for creating a single-payer healthcare system by 2017, Politico reported.

Financing for the system, known as Green Mountain Care, has been the biggest obstacle. Shumlin had become deeply skeptical he could come up with a plan to pay for the single-payer plan that would appeal to the state's mostly fiscally conservative lawmakers, according to Politico. Funding would require some form of a tax increase.

Shumlin's plan would have included a double-digit payroll tax on businesses, and a 9.5 percent assessment on the health insurance premiums paid by individual Vermonters. The plan would have paid for 94 percent of all healthcare costs, with Vermonters paying for the rest out of their pocket. Shumlin could have explored options for plans with greater individual cost sharing, but he feared it would reduce disposable income for the state's residents and potentially harm the economy.

"I have always made clear that I would ask the state to move forward with public financing only when we are ready and when we can be sure that it will promote prosperity for hard-working Vermonters and businesses, and create job growth," Shumlin said in a statement. "Pushing for single payer healthcare when the time isn't right and it might hurt our economy would not be good for Vermont and it would not be good for true healthcare reform. It could set back for years all of our hard work toward the important goal of universal, publicly-financed healthcare for all."

Shumlin's proposal for a single-payer system has been one of the most closely-watched state-level healthcare projects in the nation, and has been the subject of some fairly fierce criticism from conservative policymakers who believe such an approach is unaffordable and unsustainable.

To learn more:
- read the Politico article
- here's the statement