Shumlin promises health care financing plan

December 03, 2014

Burlington Free Press

Mike Donoghue, Free Press Staff Writer

Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday he plans to have his new health care financing plan unveiled by the end of this month.

Shumlin also released a new video designed to highlight what the governor maintains is the often unfair, complex and hidden way in which health care is currently funded in Vermont.

The governor said he plans to disclose by Dec. 29 or 30 his vision of single payer's proposed benefits and public-financing proposals for Green Mountain Care, a universal, publicly-financed health care system for Vermont.

Shumlin explained that will give legislators a chance to begin reviewing the plan before they convene in January in Montpelier.

The plan was due to the legislature two years ago, but Shumlin said it has been tough pulling together all the parts to a complex problem.

"It's the toughest public policy issue I've had to deal with," said Shumlin, who served in the senate before his two-terms as governor.

He said health care costs are causing havoc to finances for Vermonters.

"The most injurious thing to our economy right now, in my view, is the current health care costs that we are facing in Vermont," he said.

Shumlin said he wants "thoughtful discussion" while also trying to ensure transparency. His plan is expected to cover about 425,000 Vermonters not on other plans.

He said the video is designed to get Vermonters talking more about the inequities in the current health care financing system and ways to improve it.

The governor said, as possibly the highest paid state worker, it was unfair for him to pay the same amount toward insurance as the people that clean his office.

Lawrence Miller, Shumlin's director of health care reform, said Vermonters remain uninformed or unengaged on the topic.

Shumlin said he hopes the video will get more Vermonters talking. The animated video tells the story of two fictitious women with the same job and same salary, but facing different health care costs.

It cost about $5,000 for a Brattleboro firm to produce the video and will be covered by the public education section of the health care budget. The script was written by state workers.

The state does not plan to air it as a public service announcement on TV or to pay for it as an advertisement.

Contact Mike Donoghue at 660-1845 or mdonoghue@freepressmedia.com. Follow Mike on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FreepsMikeD.