A Step Forward on Health Care

Vermont on Tuesday was awarded more than $18 million to help implement a new national health care reform law. The federal funds will help the state devise an affordable insurance exchange to make it simpler for consumers to select health insurance policies. Vermont plans to structure its exchange to be converted by 2017 to a public, single-payer health care model that would provide better care at less cost. "At a time when 50 million Americans lack health insurance and when the cost of health care continues to soar, it is my strong hope that Vermont will lead the nation in a new direction through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer approach to health care," Sen. Bernie Sanders said. 

The insurance exchange would be a first step for state residents to receive federal tax credits and premium subsidies for meaningful health insurance under the federal law. Moreover, the systems established to manage an insurance exchange eventually could be used to help administer a single-payer system.

The state Legislature and Gov. Peter Shumlin earlier this year created a board to design and implement a publicly-funded health care system for the state. 

Vermont was one of 13 states to share $220 million awarded today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to design Affordable Insurance Exchanges - one-stop marketplaces where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs. Altogether, 49 states and the District of Columbia have received planning grants.

"Today's announcement will help Vermont begin to build the foundation for truly universal, cost-effective and high quality health care for every man, woman and child in Vermont in the years to come," added Sanders, a member of the Senate health committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging.

Vermont can lead the way