Vermont's Single Payer System: Coming to State Near You?

The plan already has progressives buzzing, but is Vermont's new health-care system a model that can work in other states?

Liberals finally have the health care system they’ve been hoping for—in one state at least. Last week, Vermont’s governor Peter Shumlin signed a law that puts the state on the path to providing single-payer health care. The plan will first create a statewide exchange where residents can pick from private or state insurance plans, but eventually there will just be one state-operated system called Green Mountain Care.

Before you pack your bags, though, be advised: the federal health care reform law won’t allow Vermont's plans to go forward until 2017. The state is asking for a waiver to speed up the process, but that still has them waiting until 2014. And there’s at least one critical component missing from the 141-page plan—namely, a way to fund it.

The plan already has progressives buzzing, and wondering if their state (or the country) could be next. Still, we’re talking Vermont here—the home of gay marriage and Ben & Jerry’s, Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders. It’s not your run-of-the-mill state of the union. There are a few things to consider:

1) Vermont is tiny. The state only has 620,000 residents, which makes it the second smallest state after Wyoming. That’s about 1/30 of the size of the New York City area. This small size may make it far easier to change the tide. On the other hand, if places like California and New York implemented the law, the monetary burden of a new system would be lower per capita. California, particularly, must be eyeing the Vermont plan: A single-payer health care system has twice passed the legislature and may have another chance with a new Democratic governor.

2) Vermont locks insurance companies down. The state has a highly regulated insurance industry, where insurers can only vary insurance premiums by 20 percent. This is a far cry from the way it’s done in places like Alabama or Maine, where the policies are much more laissez-faire. As a result, only 10 percent of Vermonters are uninsured—which gives them a running start next to the rest of the country. Still, these regulations could change after the federal health care law takes effect.

3) Vermonters are cool with a little socialism. After all is said and done, what really matters are the people electing their state representatives. They elected Bernie, after all, the only Socialist currently sitting in the Senate. A Gallup poll found Vermont to be the most liberal state in the country. This might bode well for Oregon, New York, or Rhode Island. Places like Mississippi, Idaho, Texas? Not so much.

With the Obamacare hoopla going strong for years now, it seems unlikely that the federal government will touch this kind of thing any time soon. But if Vermont saves a few dollars with Green Mountain Care, the discussion may take off.

Photo (cc) from Flickr user Public Citizen


October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less

At this point most reasonable people agree that climate change is a serious problem. And while a lot of good people are working on solutions, and we're all chipping in by using fewer plastic bags, it's also helpful to understand where the leading causes of the issue stem from. The list of 20 leading emitters of carbon dioxide by The Guardian newspaper does just that.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via International Labour Organization / Flickr and Michael Moore / Facebook

Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.

The FBI issued a warning, saying the film may inspire violence from a group known as the Clowncels, a subgroup of the involuntarily celibate or Incel community.

Incels an online subculture who believe they are unable to attract a sexual partner. The American nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" that is included in its list of hate groups.

Keep Reading Show less

Since normalizing relations with Communist China back in 1979, the U.S. government and its companies that do business with the country have, for the most part, turned a blind-eye to its numerous human rights abuses.

In China's Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang, it's believed that over a million members of its Uighur population are being arbitrarily imprisoned and tortured in concentration camps. Female Uighurs in detention are being given forced abortions and subjected to sexual mistreatment.

Keep Reading Show less

The vaping epidemic is like a PSA come to life. A recent outbreak of vaping-related deaths and illnesses has affected people from across 46 states. More than 800 people fell ill, and at least 17 people died from vaping. In Illinois and Wisconsin, 87% of the people who got sick said they used THC, and 71% of people also said they used products that contained nicotine. Symptoms of the illness included coughing, chest pains, shortness of breath, nausea, and fatigue. We finally might now why.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic believe toxic chemical fumes, not the actual chemicals in the vape liquid, might be the culprit. "It seems to be some kind of direct chemical injury, similar to what one might see with exposures to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents," Dr. Brandon Larsen, a surgical pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said in release.

Keep Reading Show less