Tags: Healthcare Reform | vermont | healthcare | single payer | costs

Vermont's Single-Payer Health System Headed for 'Disaster'

By    |   Monday, 01 December 2014 01:12 PM

In Vermont, the struggles to successfully put into place a single-payer health insurance system by 2017 have put that type of plan under heightened scrutiny — even as some contend that a similar program would be best for all Americans, the National Review reports.

The difficulties of a single-payer plan in Vermont, dubbed Green Mountain Care, have created political problems for its governor, Peter Shumlin, who has put the state's current health exchange on hold for repairs.

It has also drawn complaints from state lawmakers, including one who called it a "disaster" and told the Review that the failure "has shaken a lot of people’s faith in the ability of state government to put together something that would work."

Research also showed that Vermont could not afford to finance a single-payer program, even as it pressed ahead with the plan after lawmakers in 2011 approved it and set a 2017 deadline to have it in place.  Revenues were likely to be raised through payroll and income taxes.

A 2013 study by the University of Massachusetts found that an additional $1.6 billion in new revenue would have to be raised every year in order for a single-payer system to work, the Review said.

More recent estimates put the cost at between $1.7 billion and $2.2 billion in additional annual revenue.

Wrote the Review's Sally C. Pipes of the state's odd and unwieldy math: "Vermont collects $2.7 billion a year in taxes. How does it expect to boost its tax take by 80 percent to pay for single payer?"

Vermont, Pipes said, is reminder and lesson of the failure of a single-payer system, which extends far beyond U.S. shores.

Canada and Britain, for example, have also registered deep problems in such systems. Britain’s National Health Service is expected to experience nearly $47 billion in annual budget shortages by 2020, forcing the government to ration care. Already, those who can  pay to shell out their own money rather than wait in line, the Review said.

Not unlike a growing number of U.S. doctors who are bailing out of taking patients with government insurance, the number of British doctors in 2013 who stopped taking new patients for their family practices doubled, it reported.

Despite the concerns, some view Vermont's maverick policy idea as solid, USA Today reported. If it does well, other states could follow suit.

Many, however, fear the program is not ready for a launch, even a launch set for two years away.

Wrote Paul Dame in an editorial published by the Burlington Free Press: "Personally, I see no evidence that this plan will do anything to control costs, other than give doctors a pay cut. Fewer doctors will significantly hurt everyone's access to high-quality care."

He added: "Single-payer has been a successful slogan, but not a successful plan. Even if it could work as it's being sold, we are just playing a shell game with insurance — we don't address the underlying factors that help doctors provide the same quality service at lower rates."

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In Vermont, difficulties at putting into place a single-payer health insurance system by 2017 have put that type of plan under scrutiny - even as some contend that a similar program would be best nationwide, the National Review reports.
vermont, healthcare, single payer, costs
Monday, 01 December 2014 01:12 PM
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