Not Single-Payer in Vermont

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

Look at the headlines that came out of Vermont last month.

CBS News: Vermont Governor Signs Single Payer Health Law.

Democracy Now: Vermont Governor Signs Single Payer Health Law.

Kaiser Health News: Shumlin Signs Vermont’s Single Payer Law.

Here’s the problem:

It’s not single payer.

Not even close.

Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) was onto the Vermont bill early.

On April 7, the group put out a press release titled:

Vermont Bill Mislabeled Single Payer.

But PNHP’s criticism of the bill was muted.

After all, one of PNHP’s own ? Dr. Deb Richter ? was taking the lead in Vermont to get the bill passed.

But single payer activists ? not happy with the Vermont result ? are now coming out of the closet.

"Single-payer activists need to be honest," Chicago single payer activists Helen Redmond told Single Payer Action last week. "The law signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin is not single-payer."

"Not even close."

Redmond says that even the phrase "single payer" was "stripped out early on during ‘sausage making’ sessions."

"Single payer means one payer, like Medicare and the VA," Redmond said. "One source paying the bills, not several. The Vermont law continues to allow private insurers to operate in Vermont indefinitely. That’s why the insurance industry vampires didn’t declare total war on Shumlin and the Green Mountain Care ‘universal’ health care program because they’ve still got a ton of skin in the game."

Redmond said that the bill only declares "an intention or aspiration: to provide health care for all Vermont residents ? "six years down the road, when by the way, Shumlin will no longer be in office."

"Aspirations and intentions are not good enough," Redmond said. "We need health care as a human right now. 45,000 Americans die every year because they lack access to health care."

And Redmond questioned whether moving for single payer at the state level is a realistic strategy.

"The deck is stacked against passing single-payer at the state level because of a complex series of federal programs, laws and regulations and the savvy, we-can-wait-’em-out, insurers understand this," she said. "Vermont and any other state that attempts to pass single-payer must obtain waiver after waiver allowing them exemption from federal constraints. The powers that be inside the beltway will not grant these waivers. Remember, they take a lot of cash from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to ensure their financial health."

"When it comes to state single-payer initiatives, activists have to think strategically and ask themselves, ‘Is this the fight that we need to have?’ Fights over waivers and ERISA, or a nationwide fight to win a single-payer system for the entire country?"

"In my opinion, it’s better to have a fight for national legislation like H.R. 676 as proposed by Rep. John Conyers that really does create a single-payer system and abolishes the private insurance industry than to have a fight over a piece of state legislation with no funding mechanisms, is riddled with numerous bureaucratic roadblocks and makes vague promises to enact what the majority of people want ? health care as a human right for all."

"There is no short-cut to a national single-payer health care system and politicians with the best of intentions will not gently enact it. There is no way to avoid a head on collision with the parasitic, for-profit insurance industry to put them out of business once and for all. Let’s stay on that road."

Russell Mokhiber edits Single Payer Action.

 

 

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”