Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility: Shumlin administrationís lack of details on single payer financing plan is sowing fear and misinformation
February 24, 2013VTDigger
Posted By Andrew Stein On February 24, 2013 @ 1:34 pm In News Briefs | 2 Comments
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility officials say the Shumlin administration’s decision to delay the tax plan for a publicly financed health care system is creating uncertainty for businesses and has led to the spread of misinformation.
Dan Barlow, a lobbyist for VBSR, a statewide business trade organization that advances economic, social and environmental business ethics, says members of his group are concerned that the administration won’t provide funding details this legislative session. Other local business groups, including the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, have also been critical about the lack of information regarding potential tax increases associated with the first-in-the-nation single-payer initiative.
“We share their frustration that there wasn’t more information in that report,” Barlow said. “VBSR members anticipated that report would have a financing option or a menu of options for businesses and Vermonters to consider.”
VBSR supports a universal health care system for Vermonters that is decoupled from employment. But if the administration kicks the financing plan down the road much longer, Barlow said, it would do more harm than good.
“We believe we need to have the financing conversation sooner rather than later because when we don’t have this conversation, fear and misinformation and conspiracy theories spread,” he said.
The administration unveiled a single-payer study from the University of Massachusetts in January, but it lacked a core element: a tax structure to publicly fund the proposal.  Subsequently, Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, an anti-single payer 501(c)4, and a group of legislators have accused the administration of failing to provide details about the funding mechanism, as required under state statute. 
Vermonters for Health Care Freedom alleges that the administration is withholding information for political reasons about how the financing system would be structured, but Jeb Spaulding, the secretary of the Agency of Administration, says the fact that the state couldn’t get a waiver from the federal government for a single-payer health care system until 2017 made moving ahead with tax proposals so soon impractical. The administration and legislative leadership are now planning to form a committee  to draw up a tax plan that would be completed in early 2015.