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Vermont Single-Payer Law Has a Long Way To Go

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, June 8, 2011

The Vermont legislature has been basking in the healthcare limelight for the past few weeks. On May 26, Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) signed into law a bill known simply as H202. If everything proceeds as expected, Vermont citizens will be covered by a single-payer health insurance system sometime in 2017. Yep, six years from now.

Actually it's not a real single-payer system because it incorporates universal coverage, but that's the terminology being used to describe the Vermont law.

In all the ballyhoo following the signing of H202 a lot of people have lost sight of what the bill actually does: It creates a process which will – fingers crossed – result in the implementation of the single-payer system….eventually.

There is a lot to be accomplished before the first proud Vermonter presents his or her Green Mountain Care membership card to a provider. The Burlington Free Press identified almost 40 questions involving at least seven state agencies that need to be answered before the state can begin bring this insurance law to life.

Here's a sampling:
  • What healthcare payment and delivery reforms would best control the rate of growth in healthcare costs and maintain healthcare quality?
  • What state law changes are needed to integrate the private insurance market with the health benefit exchange?
  • How might the state reorganize and consolidate health-related functions in agencies and departments across state government?
  • Should the state adopt a prescription drug formulary to be used by all insurers, public and private, with some variations allowed for Medicaid?
  • Should non-residents employed by Vermont businesses be eligible for Green Mountain Care?
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