Vermont Abandons Single-Payer Health Care; Press Coverage Muted

President Barack Obama, soon to be former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former Congressman Barney Frank, and many other prominent Democrats and leftists have over the past several years declared that their ultimate goal is turn the U.S. healthcare system into a "single-payer," i.e., completely government-controlled, enterprise.

That likely explains why the reaction to Vermont's abandonment of its attempt to set up single-payer has been quite muted in the establishment press, as many of its members have ardently supported the idea for decades.

An early morning Google News search on "Vermont single-payer" (not in quotes, sorted by date, hiding duplicates) since December 17, the day Green Mountain State Governor Peter Shumlin officially threw in the towel, returned only 119 items. Many of those are duplicates anyway, as the search picks up the Politico Magazine's "Why Single-Payer Died in Vermont" about three dozen times, because that headline appears as a tease at many other other articles currently at Politico's web site. Very few of the remaining Google News results are from widely-known national establishment press outlets.

The New York Times only carried the Associated Press's writeup at its web site; there is no indication at that item's end that it appeared in the Times's print edition — because it didn't. The print editions for December 18 and December 19 have no headline containing "Verment" or "single."

Dave Gram's AP report, which the wire service at least managed to carry at its national site, had a needlessly cryptic headline. Gram's content indicated that implementation would have been horribly expensive and brutal to the state's economy (bolds are mine):

GOVERNOR ABANDONS SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE PLAN

Calling it the biggest disappointment of his career, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday he was abandoning plans to make Vermont the first state in the country with a universal, publicly funded health care system.Going forward with a project four years in the making would require tax increases too big for the state

to absorb, Shumlin said. The measure had been the centerpiece of the Democratic governor's agenda and was watched and rooted for by single-payer health care supporters around the country.

... Legislation Shumlin signed in 2011 put the state on a path to move beyond the federal Affordable Care Act by 2017 to a health care system more similar to that in neighboring Canada. Shumlin adopted the mantra that access to quality health care should be "a right and not a privilege."

The legislation called for the administration to produce a plan for financing the Green Mountain Care system by 2013 but it wasn't completed until the last several days. Shumlin said it showed the plan would require an 11.5 percent payroll tax on businesses and an income tax separate from the one the state already has of up to 9.5 percent.

Shumlin said small business owners would be hit with both, and he repeatedly expressed concern about whether those businesses, many of which now don't offer health insurance or offer much less costly insurance, could cover the new expense.

The governor said he had asked his health care team for alternative designs, but no one could come up with a plan to offer quality coverage at an affordable cost.

Based on the list of supporters identified at the beginning of this post, the AP's reference to Vermont's efforts being "rooted for by single-payer health care supporters around the country" is no exaggeration.

What is far less known is that a statewide single-payer success is considered critical to national implementation of single-payer by its advocates, including one of Obamacare's key architects. A post later this morning demonstrates just how devastating — and of course, virtually unreported — Vermont's failure is to their cause.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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