Give Vermont the Waivers it Needs to Build a Better Health Care System
If McDonald’s receives health care waivers from HHS, Vermont should too
“Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signs a historic piece of legislation today that could put Vermont on the path to being the first state with a truly progressive universal health care system” said Dr. Garrett Adams, President of Physicians for a National Health Program. “The people of Vermont, including the state’s doctors, nurses and other health professionals, have inspired the entire nation by their unflagging dedication to winning a publicly financed, comprehensive and equitable health care system based on the principle that health care is a human right.”
If fully implemented, the Vermont legislation would integrate the many pieces of a fractured health insurance system into a more effective unified system for the people of Vermont. The plan would incorporate some of the proven cost control features of a single payer system, such as simplified administration and negotiation for fair prices for pharmaceuticals.
Yet Vermont won’t be able to fully achieve this goal without multiple waivers from federal health care programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Part D and the new Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“Vermont’s new law will reform health care at the state level and take a massive step towards a fairer more, efficient system,” said Jon Walker, Senior Policy Analyst at Firedoglake. “If the Obama administration does not grant all the waivers Vermont needs, the system could fall short of its true potential. Large segments of the state’s population wouldn’t be properly brought into the new unified plan.”
During a speech given at the National Governor’s Association earlier this year, President Obama endorsed the idea of giving states the freedom to pursue other health care alternatives. Now that Vermont is ready to move forward with a better plan, the Administration can make good on its commitment. The Obama Administration should instruct federal agencies to provide Vermont with maximum flexibility in the coming years.
“There is a strong desire by single payer supporters in many states to pass legislation that would create a truly universal and publicly funded health system in their state,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, Congressional Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program. “They have been watching the efforts in Vermont closely. Considering that 80% of Democrats support the single payer approach, I expect that this will be an important campaign issue and that voters will be asking the President to come through on his stated support for flexibility waivers.”
“We’re thrilled to be working with Physicians for National Health Program on this project” says Firedoglake founder Jane Hamsher. “HHS has granted waivers from the health bill to 30 corporations, including McDonald’s, so that they could provide inferior benefits to their employees than the ACA requires. All we’re asking is that if they can do that, then they ought to allow states like Vermont to cover more people and provide better benefits than they would have under the ACA.”
Firedoglake is one of the leading political blogs on the Internet, with an average 100,000 readers per day. FDL has waged successful campaigns for student loan reform, an audit of the Federal Reserve system, and improvement of PFC Bradley Manning’s pre-trial detention conditions.
PNHP is a nonprofit research and education organization of 18,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals who support single payer national health insurance.