Posted on July 25, 2011 by scjustice
From The New England Journal of Medicine:
Anya Rader Wallack, Ph.D. | July 20, 2011
Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont recently signed into law ambitious health care reform legislation that puts Vermont on course to implement a single-payer health care system. The law creates a Health Benefit Exchange, consistent with the federal Affordable Care Act, and anticipates using it as the administrative structure for a publicly funded program of health insurance coverage for all Vermonters. The Shumlin administration believes that a single-payer system offers the greatest promise for reducing administrative waste and hassle in our health care system, guaranteeing coverage to everyone in the state, and relieving employers of the increasingly crushing burden of health insurance costs.
Vermont’s plan would include many features common to single-payer systems around the world: a global budget for health care expenditures, guaranteed coverage that is not linked to employment, and a single system of provider payments and administrative rules. The health care delivery system would remain privately owned, however, and the state could contract with a private insurer to perform some functions required of the single payer. It is not yet clear how far the state can go toward establishing a complete single-payer system. Our administration is exploring the potential relationship between the single payer and federal programs such as Medicare and TriCare (the military’s health plan) and determining how self-insured employer plans will fit into the Vermont system. Other elements yet to be worked out include the specific sources of public financing and detailed specifications for covered benefits. We intend to develop these facets of the plan during the next 2 years and will request federal permission to have the single payer fully operational by 2017. (more…)
Filed under: Health Care Law Implementation, Medicaid | Tagged: Affordable Care Act, Blueprint for Health, Green Mountain Care Board, High Benefit Exchange, Medicare, Peter Shumlin, TriCare, Vermont | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 8, 2011 by scjustice
From Dollars & Sense:
By Gerald Friedman
America’s broken health-care system suffers from what appear to be two separate problems. From the right, a chorus warns of the dangers of rising costs; we on the left focus on the growing number of people going without health care because they lack adequate insurance. This division of labor allows the right to dismiss attempts to extend coverage while crying crocodile tears for the 40 million uninsured. But the division between the problem of cost and the problem of coverage is misguided. It is founded on the assumption, common among neoclassical economists, that the current market system is efficient. Instead, however, the current system is inherently inefficient; it is the very source of the rising cost pressures. In fact, the only way we can control health-care costs and avoid fiscal and economic catastrophe is to establish a single-payer system with universal coverage.
The rising cost of health care threatens the U.S. economy. For decades, the cost of health insurance has been rising at over twice the general rate of inflation; the share of American income going to pay for health care has more than doubled since 1970 from 7% to 17%. By driving up costs for employees, retirees, the needy, the young, and the old, rising health-care costs have become a major problem for governments at every level. Health costs are squeezing public spending needed for education and infrastructure. Rising costs threaten all Americans by squeezing the income available for other activities. Indeed, if current trends continued, the entire economy would be absorbed by health care by the 2050s.
Conservatives argue that providing universal coverage would bring this fiscal Armageddon on even sooner by increasing the number of people receiving care. Following this logic, their policy has been to restrict access to health care by raising insurance deductibles, copayments, and cost sharing and by reducing access to insurance. Even before the Great Recession, growing numbers of American adults were uninsured or underinsured. Between 2003 and 2007, the share of non-elderly adults without adequate health insurance rose from 35% to 42%, reaching 75 million. This number has grown substantially since then, with the recession reducing employment and with the continued decline in employer-provided health insurance. Content to believe that our current health-care system is efficient, conservatives assume that costs would have risen more had these millions not lost access, and likewise believe that extending health-insurance coverage to tens of millions using a plan like the Affordable Care Act would drive up costs even further. Attacks on employee health insurance and on Medicare and Medicaid come from this same logic—the idea that the only way to control health-care costs is to reduce the number of people with access to health care. If we do not find a way to control costs by increasing access, there will be more proposals like that of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and the Republicans in the House of Representatives to slash Medicaid and abolish Medicare. (more…)
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Harvard School of Public Health, health insurance, House of Representatives, Jonathan Gruber, M.I.T., Massachusetts, Medicare, Paul Ryan, Steffie Woolhandler, Vermont, William Hsiao | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 1, 2011 by scjustice
From Mother Jones:
Advocates celebrate, but critics warn: A few details—like, er, funding—have yet to be worked out.
Mon May. 30, 2011 3:15 AM PDT
As Gov. Peter Shumlin took his spot on the granite steps of the Vermont State House, a row of people fanned out behind him wearing bright red t-shirts proclaiming, “Health care is a human right.” The slogan sounded noble, and wildly unrealistic. Until the governor spoke.
“We gather here today to launch the first single-payer health care system in America,” began Shumlin, a Democrat who has been governor barely four months. “To do in Vermont what has taken too long: have a health care system, the best in the world, that treats health care as a right, and not a privilege.”
Moments later, the governor made history, signing a law that sets Vermont on a course to provide health care for all of its 620,000 citizens through a European-style single payer system called Green Mountain Care. Key components include containing costs by setting reimbursement rates for health care providers and streamlining administration into a single, state-managed system. The federal health care reform law would not allow Vermont to enact single payer until 2017; Vermont is asking the administration to grant it a waiver so that it can get there even faster, by 2014.
The push for single payer system in Vermont was built slowly and methodically over the last decade, but has moved with remarkable speed since Shumlin took office in January. A few weeks after the new governor’s inauguration, the Democratic-controlled legislature convened a rare joint session to hear from Dr. William Hsiao, a Harvard economist who has been involved in designing health care systems in seven countries. Last year, the legislature commissioned Hsiao to analyze the costs and benefits of various health care options, ranging from single payer to a fully privately managed system. The soft-spoken economist told a packed state House that a single payer plan would be about 25 percent cheaper for consumers, businesses, and the government than the current system of private health insurance, saving about $500 million in just the first year. (more…)
Filed under: In the news | Tagged: Green Mountain Care, health care, Peter Shumlin, single payer, Vermont | Leave a Comment »