Gov. Shumlin signs historic health care reform bill
May 26, 2011 - MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin today signed into law a bill designed to control escalating health care costs, expand quality coverage to more Vermonters and set the state on the path to crafting the first single payer insurance system in the nation.
“This law recognizes an economic and fiscal imperative – that we must control the growth in health care costs that are putting families at economic risk and making it harder for small employers to do business,” the Governor said.
Just as importantly, he added, “We have a moral imperative to fix this problem, with 47,000 Vermonters uninsured and another 150,000 underinsured and worried about how to afford keeping their families healthy.”
The law was signed at a State House ceremony that included physicians, business owners, legislators, advocates and Vermonters who are concerned about health care access and costs.
The new law lays out three tasks: immediate efforts to control health care costs, creation of a Health Insurance Exchange, and detailed planning to implement a single payer.
The Governor said the law creates a new health care board with the ability to control the rate of growth in both health insurance premiums and health care provider payments. He said there is ample evidence that we can reduce cost growth without compromising health care quality, but it will take a new approach – we can’t simply cut provider fees.
The new board, which will be appointed and in place by October, will work with health care providers to move away from fee-for-service medicine, put them on a sustainable budget, reward them for efficiency and for keeping people healthy, and reduce administrative burden and waste.
In addition, Vermont will create a health insurance Exchange to vastly simplify insurance purchasing for all Vermonters, regardless of how we pay for it.
Finally, the law requires detailed planning for a single payer health care system, which will maximize savings and take health insurance off the backs of employers.
“I realize that people have legitimate questions about how a single payer will be financed and operated, and we will answer those questions before the legislature takes the next step,” Gov. Shumlin said.
“We’ll be getting input from all Vermonters moving forward, which is essential to the success of this effort,” the Governor said. “But input from providers, businesses and health care consumers will be especially important to assuring that our reforms are good for our health care system and good for our economy.”