If the US couldn’t get the public option in the nationwide healthcare reform bill last year, then the country might be able to adopt it on a state-by-state basis, at least starting with the more liberal ones. The Vermont House of Representatives has just passed a bill calling for a single-payer healthcare plan, making it the first state to potentially adopt “socialized medicine”:
Lawmakers voted 92 to 49 after nearly two days of debate, including discussion on the floor until the early morning hours on Thursday.
The legislation proposes to develop a unified health system where all Vermonters are eligible for benefits under a universal coverage program called Green Mountain Care. Democratic leaders are optimistic the single-payer plan will contain the skyrocketing costs of health care and put the state on a more sustainable fiscal path.
The measure also designs a four-year timeframe to establish a publicly funded system, beginning with the creation of the Green Mountain Care Board on July 1 with a budget of $1.2 million. The five-member board will design a more sensible payment plan for health care providers, control the overall cost to align it closer to Vermonters’ ability to pay and recommend a benefit package for every resident.
It doesn’t seem like the minority of House Republicans can do anything to screw this up, so unless some sort of catastrophe occurs (I’m guessing an inopportune comet strike), it looks like universal healthcare will indeed be a certainty in Vermont. In between being the first state nationwide to enact marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and now this, the Green Mountain State is starting to sound like a pretty cool place. Hopefully, the rest of the American north-east will pay attention, along with the rest of the country.