Friday, February 06, 2015

The End of Single Payer?

The dream of single payer health insurance for the U.S. may have just met its end in Vermont.

For true liberals, national health insurance, aka single payer, has long been a holy grail – a dream plan for financing health care to be continually pursued.  Every time health care reform has come up – going all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt – the single payer people have thought their time had come, only to be disappointed.  During the process of legislating Obamacare, they plumped for something called the public option – a governmental health insurance program that would compete with the private sector – only to see President Obama abandon their cause by declining to support it.

Not to be discouraged, the government of the liberal state of Vermont then proceeded during the following year (2011) to adopt legislation authorizing a single payer program of its own to be called Green Mountain Care.  The law specified that the Governor (Peter Shumlin) was to develop a detailed financial plan by 2013.  He missed that deadline but in December of 2014 issued a report saying that he would not seek funding for the law, saying that “In my judgment, now is not the time to ask our Legislature to take the step of passing a financing plan for Green Mountain Care.”

Governor Schumlin’s action was reported in an article appearing in the January 25 edition of The Boston Globe (Dream meets reality) under the byline of Jay Fitzgerald.  According to that article, “Governor Peter Shumlin released a financial report that showed the cost of the program would nearly double the size of the state’s budget in the first year alone and require large tax increases for residents and businesses.”  The article also said that the decision “signaled that the dream of universal, government-funded health care in the United States may be near its end.”

I have for many years been pointing out that national health insurance is a remedy for inadequate financing, that the problem in the U.S. was excessive financing and that we therefore would never have single payer.

I rest my case.



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