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Vt. Gov. Shumlin Pushes For Single-Payer Health Care

Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, right, announces his jobs plan in Barre, Vt., in February. (AP)

Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, right, announces his jobs plan in Barre, Vt., in February. (AP)

As many states, and Republicans in Congress, are looking for ways to roll back President Obama’s signature health care law, Vermont is moving in a different direction.

Most lawmakers there have concerns about the federal overhaul — but not because they oppose reform. Their concern is that the law doesn’t go far enough, and that the cost of health care is crippling the country’s economy.

“It’s killing business, it’s killing job creation and it’s killing working families,” Vt. Gov. Peter Shumlin told Radio Boston’s Anthony Brooks Thursday.

Vermont is moving full-steam ahead with a plan to become the first state in the nation to adopt a European-style single-payer health care plan. Shumlin, a Democrat, campaigned on the issue.

“No one in health care reform has figured out how to contain costs and our goal in Vermont is to contain costs.”
– Gov. Peter Shumlin

“We want to do three things,” Shumlin said. “The first is to treat health care as a right and not a privilege. The second is to create the first system in the country where health insurance follows the individual and is not a requirement of the employer, which we think is a huge jobs creator. And the third is to contain costs by moving to a system that spends money more wisely.”

Many see the single-payer system as a cost-saving solution, but Shumlin himself admits savings are not something achieved easily.

“No one in health care reform has figured out how to contain costs and our goal in Vermont is to contain costs,” Shumlin said.

Shumlin’s plan is dependent upon changing how health care is paid for.

“We want to be the first state that actually moves from a fee-for-service system to a payment based upon health care outcomes,” Shumlin said. “In other words: reward our providers for keeping people healthy, not the current system where we reward them for the number of procedures that they might do.”

A majority of state lawmakers supports Shumlin’s plan, and this week a key health care committee will vote on a bill that will start moving the state toward single-payer health care. Still, the overhaul of Vermont’s health care system faces hurdles. The state will need a change in Obama’s federal bill to allow Vermont to begin its single-payer push in 2014.


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  • Alex G.

    I think Vermont is a good candidate for single-payer in Massachusetts because it is such a small state with a liberal tradition. It’s a good place for a “test market” for this idea. I believe it may be more successful than Massachusetts’ approach, which was to expand the public assistance of health care rather than supply universal health care. But this is just a guess, and I’d like to see how it pans out.

    • Alex G.

      ^ um, delete the “in Massachusetts” part above.

  • Arman

    Governor’s assertion re “all industrialize countries” having a single payer is just not true. Germany doesn’t have one, but a competiion among non-profit plans.
    Kudos for bringing attention to the burden on employers, with this plan freeing the workers and employers from the shackles of health insurance.

  • John

    Finally some constructive thinking in the public arena. It’s good to see when a governor and and a party in a state are willing to challenge the status quo and resist entrenched special interests to take bold action to tackle runaway business-crippling costs for the sake of the citizenry. And no, I’m not at all referring to that sad business in Wisconsin.

  • Anonymous

    In fact, under new health care reform your health insurance company will no longer be allowed to cancel your policy if you get sick, we should be doing this already! search online “Wise Health Insurance” it is a good place to find insurance if you have illness like me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FSTN5453LFVPU44EFDT4H5G33U Domenico

    If Gov. Shumlin is successful, he may turn out to be the Tommy Douglas of the U.S. Douglas was the Premier of Saskatchewan when a Provincial health insurance plan was created in 1962. Subsequently, the other Canadian Provinces established similar plans.

  • RosemaryDeForge

    We need a single payer,when a child turns 18 and no longer qualifies for Doctor Dinasor, is still in school,where do they get insurance ? . This child is a senoir, national honor society,class vice president,ect.Both parents are working, thier other 2 children qualify. Father is seasonal truck driver,loses his insurance when laid off. Mother works as a private pre-school teacher,no insurance. We do not need rich insurances companies,only health care.

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