Vermont Interfaith Leaders strive to have first Universal Single Payer Plan
Green Mountain Care promises to be the first in the nation truly universal, single payer plan for health care, if leaders at Vermont Interfaith Action and their allies have their way. While some states have been struggling with political leaders who are trying to keep Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms from being implemented, Vermont has a governor and state legislature who are willing to listen to citizens and make the most of the ACA provisions to create substantive health care reform. Vermont Interfaith Action's activities have proven the effectiveness of our community organizing model:
- VIA leaders conducted numerous one-to-ones with congregation members and users of a local free clinic and a low-income direct assistance program
- VIA leaders launched into research meetings with a wide variety of stakeholders:The presidents of the Vermont Medical Society, Vermont Hospital Association, The Chair of the House Health Care Committee, The Governor's Special Assistant for Health Care, and The CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Vermont and others.
These preparations led to VIA's public action on March 29, targeting Christie Hager, the Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (New England Region) and health care staff of each member of Vermont's Congressional delegation.
All of the preparations led to VIA's public action on March 29, targeting Christie Hager, the Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (New England Region) and health care staff of each member of Vermont's Congressional delegation.
At the public action, VIA leaders presented detailed information about the healthcare legislation and outlined the plan for Green Mountain Care. The plan will essentially create a single payer system for Vermont's medical exchange as called for in the Affordable Care Act. All Vermonters will be covered by the system, which will be funded by federal dollars from the Affordable Care Act and a state payroll tax. No more employer-based plans, no more separate programs of Medicaid and Medicare, no more individuals and families buying into high deductible plans - all state residents will be covered by the same plan, with uniform benefits, co-pays, and deductibles. In addition, people throughout the state will have access to federally qualified health centers, and Vermont's current accountable care organization pilot program, called the Blueprint for Health, will be expanded into every geographic region to ensure quality, coordinated care with cost containment.
VIA expressed its solid support for this landmark plan. When asked questions about whether the state can expect a high degree of cooperation and flexibility from federal officials to make this plan a reality at least by 2017, if not before, the answer was a resounding "yes" from the HHS Regional Director and Vermont's Congressional delegation. There is much more work to be done. VIA leaders are up to the task, allied with organizations across the state, VIA looks forward to making Vermont a model to the rest of the nation.
Submitted by Debbie Ingram, Executive Director, Vermont Interfaith Action