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VT health plan advances

The Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2011

Vermont is moving one step closer to a goal of its Democratic governor: a state-run health plan that would insure most of its 625,000 residents. The bill Gov. Peter Shumlin plans to sign today would create a panel whose goal would be to figure out how to pay for a new system intended to reduce the rate of overall health-cost increases. The challenge is to figure out how to finance such a system and convince the federal government to allow the experiment to proceed as soon as 2017. It's far from clear Vermont can make it all work. In an interview, Gov. Shumlin said Vermont needs the change because its health costs have doubled over the last decade. Between 2004 and 2008, healthcare spending in Vermont grew at an annual rate of 8%, three percentage points higher than the national rate. Among the cost drivers is that Vermont requires insurers to offer coverage to all applicants regardless of their health status.