Single-Payer Health Care: Vermont Gov Makes History By Making It Law
Last month, the Vermont Senatepassed legislation, approved earlier by the House, that would establish a single payer health care system in the state. The legislation would make Vermont the first state in the nation to, as Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) said, make health care “a right and not a privilege.”
The governor’s office just confirmed for ThinkProgress that Shumlin signed the legislation into law this morning, making the state the first in American history to pass legislation that will establish a single payer health care system to provide care to all citizens. Now that the law is signed, Vermont will spend the next four years setting up the system and preparing it for implementation.
In order to actually enact the system, the state needs a waiver from the Affordable Care Act health reform law. Currently, the federal government will start handing out state waivers in 2017 — three years after Vermont wants to implement its system. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) has introduced an amendment that would move the waiver date up to 2014, an idea that President Obama has endorsed.
Update In a statement provided to ThinkProgress, Shumlin explained that he had an economic and moral imperative to champion Vermont's new health care law: "This law recognizes an economic and fiscal imperative – that we must control the growth in health care costs that are putting families at economic risk and making it harder for small employers to do business. We have a moral imperative to fix this problem, with 47,000 Vermonters uninsured and another 150,000 underinsured and worried about how to afford keeping their families healthy"