Many people move to Vermont in search of a slower pace; Deb Richter, MD, came in 1999 to work obsessively toward a far-fetched goal. She wanted Vermont to become the first state to adopt a single-payer healthcare system, run and paid for by the government, with every resident eligible for a uniform benefit package. So Richter, a buoyant primary care doctor from Buffalo who had given up on New York's embracing such a system, started lining up speaking engagements and meeting with lawmakers, whom she found more accessible than their New York counterparts. Twelve years later, Richter will watch Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, sign a bill on Thursday that sets Vermont on a path toward a single-payer system -- the nation's first such experiment -- thanks in no small part to her persistence.