Health Care

Shumlin backs off single payer plan

News conference video Part 1

Gov. Peter Shumlin will not pursue a single payer health care plan this legislative session or in the near future.

The governor had pinned his hopes on making Vermont the first state in the nation to implement a single payer system.

Three years ago, Shumlin touted Act 48, the framework for single payer as an unparalleled political achievement. Wednesday, the governor said economic conditions precluded making that dream a reality.

Gov. Peter Shumlin announces that single payer health care will not go forward in the next legislative session. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger
Gov. Peter Shumlin announces that single payer health care will not go forward in the next legislative session. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

“We obviously wish that the numbers were different. It’s a huge disappointment for me, it’s the biggest disappointment of my public service so far, but we’ll make progress by pushing forward in other ways,” Shumlin said.

Reaction was swift and intense. Business leaders lauded his pragmatism while supporters expressed dismay that the governor flinched at what they saw as a crucial moment for health reform. Many were surprised by Shumlin’s announcement because he had said he would reveal his plans after the Christmas holiday.

Even members of the Governor’s Business Council on Health Care Reform and the Governor’s Consumer Advisory Council were surprised by the news.

The governor kept the development of his financing plan under wraps for several years and had come under increasing pressure to include members of the public in the process. He waited, however, until after the election to make his move. The delay may have cost him voter support as he narrowly defeated an relatively unknown Republican challenger, Scott Milne, by only 2,434 votes in November.

His health care reform team ultimately came to the conclusion that moving ahead with single payer was financially unfeasible as they pushed through an economic simulation model over the past several weeks. By Friday, it became clear that the cost of the plan would be too rich for Vermonters’ pocketbooks. Shumlin said he finalized his decision to pull the plug on single payer Monday.

Shumlin said that the latest economic modeling showed the cost of providing high quality health coverage to all Vermonters would be prohibitive.

The price tag for a publicly financed universal health care system turned out to be $2.6 billion, not the $1.6 billion to $2.2 billion that Shumlin and his team originally believed. The objective was to replace what Vermonters now pay in premiums with taxes.

Read Jon Margolis’ analysis: Leading means being able to say you lost. 

Meanwhile, the continued slow economic recovery has created new budget pressures on state government, including an anticipated $75 million reduction in revenues over fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

The Shumlin administration revealed Wednesday that his health care reform team was considering an 11.5 percent payroll tax on employers and an income tax with a sliding scale from 0 percent to 9.5 percent, depending on income and family size. The maximum income tax a family would pay was capped at $27,500 per household. In previous news reports about the single payer financing plan, the payroll percentage was pegged at 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

Small businesses would have been hurt by the plan, officials said, without a costly transition period that would have insulated small employers in the first three years of the program.

The benefits plan the Shumlin administration chose had an actuarial value of 94 percent, meaning those covered would be responsible for 6 percent of the costs. Over the past two weeks, the administration modeled scenarios with lower actuarial values, but decided that would not be equitable.

Twenty-two percent of Vermonters currently have coverage at a 95 percent actuarial value and another 25 percent are between 90 percent and 95 percent.

“It did not seem feasible for that many Vermonters to take a hit on out-of-pocket costs,” said Robin Lunge, director of health reform. “It would not have been fair.”

At one point during a new conference that lasted more than an hour, Shumlin said he would continue to “advance the ball on affordable universal health care” without asking the Legislature to pass a “fantasy package that would hurt Vermont’s economy at this time.”

Assumptions from reports in 2011 and 2013 suggested the state would receive $262 million through a waiver to the federal Affordable Care Act. That estimate has been revised down to $161 million, according to Michael Costa, deputy director of health care reform.

Previous reports also assumed administrative savings that Costa now says would not be practical to achieve in the short term.

The state assumed that $637 million in Medicaid funding would have been available to help pay for the program, but current state and Medicaid funding is estimated to fall $150 million short of that estimate.

“Things change,” Costa said. “It wasn’t one thing it was those things cumulatively that make this an extraordinarily difficult task for Vermont and Vermont’s economy.”

In 2011, Professor William Hsiao, a Harvard health care economist, told lawmakers that a single payer system would have to be financially supported through a payroll tax. He predicted the tax would be 12.5 percent in 2015 and 11.6 percent in 2019, including a 3 percent contribution from employees.

News conference video Part 2

Shumlin said he would continue to work with the Green Mountain Care Board to slow the growth in health care spending. To that end, the state will also pursue a federal all-payer waiver to reduce the cost shift by equalizing payments from government programs and private payers.

The governor also wants to build on the promise of Vermont’s Blueprint for Health managed care program, by increasing the reimbursements rates for that program.

He will also push to move the public-private partnership Vermont Information Technology Leaders, under the purview of the Green Mountain Care Board, in order to empower the board to streamline medical record-keeping.

“If we pushed for single payer financing when the timing isn’t right it would likely hurt our economy, and it is not good for Vermont, and it would not be good for health care reform,” Shumlin said. “It could set back for years and years all the hard work toward the important goal of universal publicly financed health care for all.”

News conference video Part 3

Reaction from advocates, health care providers, business, opponents and politicians

James Haslam, who spearheaded the effort to pass Act 48 in 2011 and now leads the Vermont Workers Center, was outraged by the governor’s decision. He said it was a “slap in the face of people that worked really hard” to advocate for the issue.

“Right now we have a health care crisis in this state under the current system,” Haslam said, “People are not getting the care they need.

“Clearly a political decision was made not to raise adequate revenue from big businesses and from wealthy folks to fund this thing,” Haslam continued. “The money is there. It’s just the political will to raise the taxes. We don’t buy the idea that this was something we could do up until Friday and then all of the sudden we can’t do it.”

But many in the business community, including members of the governor’s business advisory council on health care reform, applauded Shumlin’s pragmatism in acknowledging the economic dislocation that could result.

Andrew Brewer, owner of Onion River Sports in Montpelier and a member of the business council, said the administration’s attempt at a single payer plan was not a wasted effort.

“I think overall he made the right decision,” Brewer said. “I think the exercise was a good idea.”

Brewer also defended the timing of the announcement. “There were a lot of calls that maybe the plan was already baked a year ago, and he was just waiting until after the election,” he said. “I don’t know about that unless we were victims of elaborate theater for the last several months with fake numbers up on the screen. No, we watched them work very, very hard to come up with this and I think we all appreciate this.”

Win Smith, owner of Sugarbush resort, said an 11.5 percent payroll tax would have pushed his health care costs up by 61 percent.

Smith has 162 employees, all of whom have insurance through the company. Some workers at the resort opt out because they are on a spouse’s plan, some are part-time or seasonal workers who don’t qualify for the company plan. Sugarbush would have been subject to a health care payroll tax for all of those workers and that would have inflated Smith’s overall costs, he said.

“I’m glad we’re not jumping into things to be politically correct, but we’re really thoughtfully doing it,” Smith said.

Peter Shumlin signed the historic health care reform act on the Statehouse steps on Thursday. VTD/Taylor Dobbs.
Peter Shumlin signed the historic health care reform act on the Statehouse steps in May 2011. VTD/Taylor Dobbs.

Burlington developer Ernie Pomerleau, also a member of the governor’s business advisory council, praised Shumlin for his “realism” and praised the administration’s work reining in health care costs through the Green Mountain Care Board.

“From a business perspective … they’re hard numbers to swallow,” he said, adding that the business community will continue to support reforms toward a “fairer” system.

Longtime single payer advocate Deb Richter with the group Vermont Health Care for All said she was disappointed, but still has faith in Shumlin and his team.

“There isn’t any other politician that could have gotten this done,” Richter said. “Not any of the Democrats that ran [in the 2010 Democratic primary] could get this done, in my view.

“The economics of it at this point are very difficult, but my feeling is that if this is something we do in smaller manageable chunks we can get it done, and it’s something that will even be appealing to the business community,” Richter said.

She is still optimistic that Vermont will become the first state in the U.S. to move to a single payer program, and after 26 years of advocacy for public universal health care, Richter said she’s learned to be patient.

House Speaker Shap Smith said the governor’s decision “reflects the realities and difficulty of financing health care now, and the dislocation that would happen in changing that financing.

“My hope is that we can figure out a way to give Vermonters some relief from our high cost of health care and make it easier for them to have access to health care while we can’t move ahead with single payer,” Speaker Smith said. “Maybe we can find out a way to make health care more easily accessible for Vermonters.”

Speaker Smith’s top priority for the new legislative session is education finance reform, and he says health care costs are tied to that. “In some way, it gives more runway for the education issues; in some ways, it takes away one of the potential solutions for health care costs,” he said.

John Campbell, Senate president pro tem, said the biggest concern for most people was how much it would cost and who would pay for it.

“I have to commend the governor for at least trying and going as far as he did,” Campbell said. “He could have punted it many times over this long road, and he didn’t because he thought there was a ray of hope he could pull it off fiscally.”

At least one lawmaker believes that the Legislature could seek to advance single payer on its own.

Sen. Anthony Pollina, D/P/W-Washington, said it’s premature to write off significant health care reform this session.

“I think there are ways Vermonters can put their heads together and build upon what we have in a way that really works,” Pollina said. “I think that the governor saying he can’t make it happen does not translate into thinking that the Legislature can’t make it happen because he has a credibility problem, and I don’t think the Legislature does.”

For Republicans, it was an I-told-you-so opportunity. They openly chastised the governor for not being more realistic.

Scott Milne, Republican candidate for governor. Photo by Anne Galloway/VTDigger
Scott Milne, Republican candidate for governor. Photo by Anne Galloway/VTDigger

GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne, who has yet to concede to Shumlin, said toward the end of his campaign that single payer idea was “dead” and speculated that Shumlin would announce as much after the election. Because neither Milne nor Shumlin received 50 percent of the vote, lawmakers will choose the next governor Jan. 8. Legislators can vote for any of the top three finishers, Shumlin, Milne or Libertarian Dan Feliciano.

“It just seemed like it was implausible that it was going to go forward,” Milne said.

“I think, unfortunately for Vermonters, that what Gov. Shumlin has done is surround himself with a bunch of people who are all drinking from the same Kool-Aid,” he said.

Feliciano said he hopes this means the single payer idea will be off the table for good. “There’s other solutions to reduce health care costs rather than just going to single payer,” he said.

The Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems praised the governor’s decision. Its president, Bea Grause, said in a statement that her organization will work with the governor and the Green Mountain Care Board on reforms that “provide coverage for all Vermonters and make health insurance more affordable without damaging Vermont’s economy.”

Green Mountain Care Board Chairman Al Gobeille issued a statement in support of Shumlin’s determination that single payer isn’t “feasible” currently, but pledged to continue the board’s efforts to reduce the growth in health care costs.

“These efforts are not easy and are not a full solution to what ails our health care system, but they are necessary and the Green Mountain Care Board stands ready to continue this important work,” he said.

Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott supported the governor’s decision but also took a shot at the state’s problematic health insurance exchange.

“The governor made the right decision today, especially in light of the mismanagement of Vermont Health Connect and the need to put our full focus on growing Vermont’s economy,” Scott said in a statement. “In that vein, I both hope and expect we will all work together to make sure the exchange works, truly lowers the cost of health care, and insures more Vermonters without taxing people out of the State.”

Darcie Johnston of the anti-single payer group Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, said she thinks the governor evinced a renewed sense of purpose and confidence she hadn’t seen from him in months. “This monkey is now off his back,” Johnston said.

News conference video Part 4

Editor’s note: VTDigger’s Laura Krantz contributed to this report.

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  • Cynthia Browning

    I hope that we can now move forward with practical, reliable, and moderate reforms that will actually improve conditions for Vermonters who most need help right now. I will be developing my own proposals along those lines …

    But I am also strongly tempted to say “I told you so.” The Administration may have been surprized that under less optimal assumptions and conditions “single payer” was not feasible. But that reality was always obvious to me and to others who looked at the facts without rose colored glasses and with skepticism.

    Rep. Cynthia Browning, Arlington

    • Wendy Wilton

      Rep. Browning, thank you for your steadfast pragmatic leadership. There is so much that we can do to offer more coverage, lower costs and maintain a good health care system.
      Despite all the cost increases as a result of government intervention, the City of Rutland saw a 5% decrease in premiums by instituting a high deductible plan and greater premium share by participants (resulting in more careful utilization decisions by the insured) and a wellness plan. Bringing more competition in both providers and plan options will also be a good start. Finally, reducing defensive medicine would lower costs overall. You likely have other good ideas, too!

      • Ann Meade

        Could an employee from the City of Rutland comment on how they feel about their high deductible plan and greater premium share? As well as being required to make “more careful utilization decisions”? This happened to me at my last employer and between the premiums and the amount of money I had to spend up front I would have been better off just paying for my medical care out of pocket and buying catastrophic insurance.

        • Wendy Wilton

          Ann, I am a Rutland City employee. The City has done some really good things to lower costs which can be done elsewhere. And the plan works very well with the high deductible.

          • Willem Post


            It works very well for City employees, but would be unaffordable for all of Vermonters. Even retired couples on Medicare pay more than City employees. Here are some numbers:


            The family consists of 4 people, 2 adults of which one is employed by the City, 2 children of which one is in college and covered by the City, and one, 26, with separate coverage through the Affordable Care Act, ACA.

            – The premium cost of a high deductible, $5,000, family plan is $22,161 for 3 people. NOTE: Competitive bidding is limited, as BC/BS, and MVP are the only other insurers in the state. Vermont’s “business-friendliness” chased all the health care competitors out of this state over the last 20 years!

            – Employee pays: 16% of $22,161 = $3,546 for 3 people. The rest of the premium 22,161 – 3,546 = $18,615 is paid by the City. Next year the employee will pay 18% of the premium.

            – Employee voluntarily contributes, a tax-exempt, $800/yr to a Flexible Spending Arrangement, FSA, to pay out-of-pocket medical and dental costs, including co-payments and deductibles, but NOT to pay premiums. Some employers contribute to FSAs.

            – Total family cost is 3,546 + 800 (if all is spent) = $4,346 for 3 people.

            The $5,000 deductible comes into play as follows:

            – If a family member has an operation costing, say $15,000, the deductible payments would be $1,250 by the employee and $3,750 by the City, the rest 15,000 – 5000 = $10,000 by the insurance company.

      • Wendy:

        You have been right all along on single payer and your work didn’t cost the tax payers a dime.

        You were able to ferret out the massive economic problems associated with single payer at home using only your pocket calculator and common sense. It took the Governor’s team years and millions of dollars to come to the same conclusions.

        You repeatedly and constructively shared your reasoning on the economic futility of single payer, only to be ignored or even attacked at times.

        The Governor and his team, for unknown reasons, refused to listen to anyone who challenged their thinking……which has proven to be a massive and costly mistake.

        Thank you Wendy and continue to share your thinking with the Governor and the people of Vermont. We’ll all be better off if you do.

        • Wendy Wilton

          Thanks, Peter! And I hope you will continue to do your part with insightful and valuable commentary!

      • Shumlin says “the numbers were the numbers”? Aren’t these approx. the same numbers you were giving Wendy oh so long and many dollars ago? What a waste of money which could have made a difference to Vermonter’s. There are so many who can say I told ya so. We can give information (and attacked for doing so) but it shows that so many in Montpelier don’t listen. I hope their now listening to us on the next tough issues.

      • Ralph Colin

        Thanks to experts like Tom, Wendy, Cynthia and many others who predicted the outcome of this DOA initiative, if the powers that be had only listened to them, the state might not be in the desperate financial and economic circumstances which now prevail.

        One thing needs to be said now and over and over again: The brand of single-payer health care which was proposed by the governor and pursued by all his fellow travelers was NOT, repeat NOT, a plan to reduce the costs of providing health care to Vermonters. It was a political decision to try to maintain the governor in his office in the Pavilion Building for at least one more term, but eventually to propel him into the Senate Office Building in Washington DC and shortly thereafter, into the White House.

        From the get-go, it was obvious that a state with as small a population as we have here in Vermont could never support the kind of costly scheme being proposed by its architects. It was unrealistic four years ago and it took this long for the politicians to reveal that it was a folly from the start. Think of the millions upon millions of dollars and hours spent on this plan to try to keep an egotistical, arrogant and ambitious politician in the public eye.

        Well, in that respect, but in a way that he didn’t anticipate, the objective may have been accomplished. Shumlin may be remembered for a long time, but for all the wrong reasons. But as Tom Pelham has reminded us above, we are the ones who in the long run, will have subsidized this doomed-to-failure effort and we will be paying for it for a long time to come.

        Shame on all of us, but shame particularly upon the governor and all his senior captains and lieutenants for allowing this sham to continue for as long as it has.

    • Willem Post


      Try not to be too, too ambitious. Vermont is POOR, as in has no money.

      INCREMENTAL reform, a.k.a. tweaking, is the way to go.

      My wife had a 30-minute consultation (no exam, no tests, no prescriptions, etc., just talk) with a doctor at Mount Ascutney Hospital and he had the audacity to bill Medicare for over $1,000. Of course, Medicare paid only a fraction of that amount.

      Vermont should set limits, $/hr, regarding what doctors can charge for their services.

      Doctors, licensed by the State, should be required to submit their fee schedules to the state; if not, no license.

      • Joyce Wilson

        William, What did Medicare pay for that visit? It is important to know what was paid by Medicare. Medicare and Medicaid underpay so then the private insurance has a cost shift onto them their higher reimbursements and higher premiums for those with private insurance.

        Also since your wife was seen by a physician employed by a hospital, what was the “facility fee” for being seen? The facility fee applies to all patients seen by hospital employed doctors in addition to the fee reimbursed.

        Also you seem to be confused that doctors set their own fees which would apply only if they took no private insurance, no Medicare and no Medicaid.

        We do need transparency in our health care system, but let us include both the fee for the service and the hefty “facility fee” that practices associated with hospitals charge. How much does that MRI cost at the “private practice” free standing MRI center VS the MRI done at the hospital that includes both a MRI charge and an additional facility fee?

        • Willem Post


          That is the reason for submittal of fee schedules to a state website.

          Need and MRI? Go to the hospital with the lowest price, providing the equipment is equal. If more people made such judgments, PROVIDER costs would come down.

          • Willem Post

            …Right now, there is no competition among providers, strictly cost ++++, whatever they can get away with, including Medicare overcharging, bordering on fraud, by Dartmouth Medical Center, et al. Their attitude is “let Medicare catch us”

    • Craig Powers

      Thank you Rep. Browning. You certainly predicted this outcome and kept the pressure on to expose the political smoke and mirrors.

      I appreciate your ability to not drink the Democrat kool aid! That is why I voted for you.

  • Bill Gardyne


  • John MacGovern

    As I wrote on these pages many times: single-payer was dead man walking…and now its author says the dead man isn’t even walking. The real story here: the troops(his fellow progressives and democrats in the Legislature) were not going to swallow his poison($2billion in new taxes) and he does not want all this on the table when the Legislature meets next month to decide who is going to be Vermont’s next governor. The odds that he will be chosen have now increased.

    • Walter Carpenter

      “single-payer was dead man walking”

      Oh, it ain’t dead yet. It is still alive and walking, just down a different road for now.

      • Jon Corrigan

        Let’s hope that ‘different road’ is extremely long with no exits.

        • Willem Post


          A very long, dark tunnel comes to mind.

      • Willem Post


        Please tell Shumlin Single-Payer is not dead in your own mind, and that you are ready to do battle again and again and again.

        Shumlin wants to get elected to a third term. He had to cancel Single-Payer to survive.

        As Milne said: Shumlin he surrounded by a posse of aficionados who drink the same Single-Payer Kool-Aid.

      • Glenn Thompson

        Walter Carpenter,

        Didn’t someone tell you there is no ‘Pot of Gold’ at the end of this rainbow? What road can they possibly go down without the funding required to get it off the ground?

        • Chris Lewis

          In Walters world there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow and a free lunch for all.

          • Willem Post


            Someone else’s “pot of gold” to be filtered left and right for various never ending socialist “initiatives”.

            Remember socialism failed in the Soviet Union, and in Cuba, and in China, and, and, and.

      • Joyce Wilson

        Yes Walter, you are correct. If the all payer waiver with the global budget contingency applied for in DC gets approved, then it will put at least the Vermont hospitals under global budgets as is done in Maryland.

        Under the global budget contingency in Maryland, even Medicare is under global budget. I do think this is coming very soon to Vermont, Gov Shumlin probably just needs to wait to announce it after he is back in officially as Governor.

        The sneaky back door approach to move Vermont to single payer…..

        • Jeanne Keller

          The “all payer” waiver Shumlin is finally pushing for is NOT a precursor to single payer. IF anything, it’s an alternative. It is the way to start getting health care costs under control – first, by requiring that cost shifting stop. All payers would start paying the same amount for the same services, making payment more equitable in that respect. (Shumlin noted this means the legislature’s Medicaid cost shifting has to stop.)
          Second, the administrative savings of there being one fee schedule, regardless of the number of insurers, is put in place, without a “single payer.” In fact, all provider/hospital bills can go to one place, to be “repriced” and then electronically sent to the payer, furthering the savings. (Note that VITL, the operator of the electronic health data network, is also to be put under GMCB control, finally, so it will operate in the public’s interest, not the provider’s interest.)
          Done right, the four proposals Shumlin put forth will actually reap much of the savings posited by the “single payer” advocates, without putting all of health care on the state budget, which is what their proposal would do. We should have done these four proposals ten years ago. We’d be way, way ahead of the curve by now.
          So let’s get to work, and quit dwelling on the past. Time is running out to get costs under control. We cannot wait for the perfect solution, and end up with health care eating 20%+ of the state’s economy.

          • Joyce Wilson

            Jeanne, The recently updated waiver in Maryland has a global budget requirement on it. If Vermont obtains the “all payer waiver” it will also have the global budget contingency on it.

            Single payer does work under the constraints of global budgets.

            We will wait to see if Vermont obtains the waiver with the global budget contingency. Medicare will not be outside of the global budgets.

          • John McClaughry

            As one who has pointed out for decades (along with Jeanne) that the major health care financing problem – and our high private premiums – is govt underfunding of Medicaid (and Medicare), I am naturally eager to put an end to the infamous cost shift.
            If Medicaid is to pay full cost (and also Medicare), and private insurance is to pay that same cost for identical services, just where does the money come from to finance the higher govt payments? From “administrative savings”?

        • Willem Post


          Maryland is a much richer state than Vermont.

    • Stewart Skrill

      You are “spot on”! The governor’s directors obviously made this happen strategically to influence the legislature’s election in January.
      Vermont really run along with his cohorts in D.C.
      as we don’t have the printing presses to pump out its own fiat money as needed or wanted.

  • Ross Laffan

    Dear Rep. Haas:

    Feel free to vote for Milne.


    Regretful Shumlin voter.

  • Patrick Zachary

    He finally listens!! What bugs me most is the wasted $ and time involved when many of us knew (gut feeling and analysis) this was folly on day 1 (one). Hopefully property tax roll back will not take so long and he (whomever is the governor) will listen and act shortly. The issue is affordability for the people who live here and all programs/entitlements/ etc need to be measured against the affordability goal.

  • bruce wilkie


  • Stan Shapiro

    Governor Shumlin should be respected for his sincere efforts. The idea of universal health care is an inevitability that cannot be ignored . How we as a society get there is a complex cultural and economic endeavor.His reasoning about the ability of the state of Vermont to go it alone shows wisdom and courage in that he made a tough but realistic call.We should all be grateful that these past few years have been an era of intense activity by hospitals and providers to do better and that the governors initiative has been a most provocative catalyst. This will continue as we evolve to a better system for all.

    • Willem Post


      Sincerity is not the same as competence.

      Many people are sincere, but often do not know their knee from their elbow.

      A wise man would have had the insight to dismissed this out of hand, instead of jerking around already-struggling Vermont households and businesses with his fantasy socialist follies.

      Vermont getting 90% of ALL of its energy from Renewables (not just electrical energy which is only 1/3 of ALL energy) is another such folly, that would shackle Vermont to high energy prices, and on-going near-zero growth, and more of endless poverty.

  • Nellie Gray

    I hope you’re okay, Walter. Take care. It’s okay. Premium tax credits are helping a lot of people afford insurance already.

    Differences of opinion on this topic got pretty heated, but I know you’re were trying to fight for everyone’s health.
    – A friend

  • With high office comes responsibility and accountability.

    There has been strong evidence going back to the flaws in the Hsiao study that single payer was not an economically viable proposition. Evidence that would have made any responsible executive to take pause.

    Gov. Shumlin failed in this respect and went on to waste far in excess of $100 million of tax payer money in pursue of a goal that many sincere people have warned was not economically attainable nor responsible.

    The Governor now saying he is disappointed does not relieve him of responsibility and now he must now be held accountable.

    The responsibility on what to do now moves on to the legislature to determine how the Governor will be held accountable.

  • Margaret Maclean

    Thank you Governor Shumlin and your health care team of public servants for working to make single payer a reality for Vermont. I regret that the current economic conditions in this country will not allow moving forward at this time to make single payer a reality. I wish this was not the case but I appreciate your hard work, honesty and the wise pragmatic decision you have made.

  • CGI

    still hasn’t refunded our tax dollars.

    What about that?

    Lawyers got most of the rewards anyway.

    So be it.

    • Patricia Morale

      Tort reform

  • The way the .gov will “push forward”, will be to eliminate the voice of the minority that pays taxes, through usage of agents devoted to taxation. period. I await your wrath, willingly.

    • Leslie Matthews

      Please explain what you mean by “the minority that pays taxes.” Everyone who lives in Vermont pays taxes: sales taxes and property taxes (directly or indirectly through rent). Some people don’t have enough income to pay income taxes, but they still pay taxes. The wealthiest Vermonters, however, pay a lower percentage of their income in taxes than poor and middle income Vermonters, because the regressive sales and property taxes don’t take such a large bite out of their income.

      • paul lutz

        Your statement is false false false. Pecentages don’t lie.

        There are a host of fees and taxes the “poor don’t pay. Yet the rich, don’t get the benefit either.

        We need to get over having the goveremnet decide how much someone should pay.

        If an citizen wants to aspire to cashier their entire life, great, that is their choice, BUT they don’t get a free pass to pay for basic services.

  • claude turpin

    Smart political move by Shumlin. Those of us who have been following this have known for several years now that the financing wouldn’t work. But most voters haven’t been paying close attention and, in any event, have a short memory. By jettisoning single payer, Shumlin will lose a few hard core progs, and may face a progressive challenger in the next gubernatorial election, but will be able to cast himself as a fiscal pragmatist and make a bid for the middle-of-the road dem vote that he lost this year. The only way that political strategy loses is if the Republicans nominate a moderate like Phil Scott, in which case Shumlin’s a goner. But if the Rs stick to the right wing playbook and nominate a Randy Brock, Shumlin makes up among moderates what he loses with the progs. If people like Ernie Pomerleau are already hailing Shumlin’s “realism,” you can bet that two years from now he will have totally reinvented himself and the money this administration has wasted will be largely forgotten.

  • Jim Christiansen

    I’m still interested to see the governors financing plans, the scenarios run and their results, the timelines, the internal communications, and of course the final bill for this endeavor.

    Vermonters deserve the information we paid for in a timely manner.

  • kevin ellis

    It took guts for the governor to do this. I admire him.

    • Wendy Wilton

      Guts or survival instinct?

    • We are now hearing of the Governor demonstrating “guts” by pulling the plug on the ill fated single payer system.

      Apparently there is some confusion here between having guts and exhibiting unmitigated gall.

      Guts would have been terminating this venture more than three years when it was evident that the promises of the Hsiao report could never be achieved.

      Gall is wasting more than three years and $100 million of tax payer money on an undertaking that had no chance of succeeding while ignoring all the warranting signs and advice of impending doom.

      In this case, what we have clearly witnessed is gall on steroids from start to finish.

    • John McClaughry

      No doubt Kevin is well aware that the governor can be very sympathetic to lobbyists who admire him

  • Kim Fried

    I truly think if we concentrate on the goals that we set rather then being so obsessed with being the “first in the nation” we would be more successful or more willing to compromise and do what’s best for the citizens of Vermont. Hopefully this obsession of always being “the first” will become the rallying cry of the past.

    • Kathy Callaghan

      Amen, Kim.

  • Linda Baird-White

    We can only surmise that facts of UN-affordability were overwhelmingly irrefutable and he was left with no choices whatsoever.

    I am incensed and appalled that Vermonters were left dangling in non-transparency for such a lengthy period of time while so many important economic issues were shelved.

    Adding to those transgressions are how funds have been squandered to unprecedented degrees. This will continue to haunt and create hardships for Vermont for quite some time to come.

    Having a title does not afford one a license to foolishly gamble or experiment on the backs of Vermont’s Citizens.

  • Thomas Powell

    It is now time for the Legislature to repeal the sections of Act 48 that spoke to single payer and rewrite the plan in accordance with fiscal sanity and evidence-based health policy. Neither have been evident in this executive branch. Additionally, I hope Shumlin will lay off the lackeys and true believers he hired to ram single payer down Vermont’s collective throat.

    • Willem Post


      How about staying out of healthcare for a few years, and instead try to put the economy back in order so it will grow again?

  • Al Salzman

    As someone who never held Peter Shumlin in great esteem, it would be easy to blame him for torpedoing single payer health care, but it would be unfair. It is important to view the crisis in effective, affordable, health care as a nation-wide issue. Obamacare is a sham and a giveaway to Big Pharma and the Health Care corporate pirates, and will collapse under the weight of its increasing costs and opportunities for fraud.
    We live in a society whose economic and social priorities are a moral disgrace. Thirty percent of our children live in poverty according toUNICEF. It is critical to connect all the dots to arrive at the root of the problem, not only in health care but in most other social programs.
    Our profligate military expenditures in support of an insupportable empire, and our subjugation by the financial elite drains us not only of treasure but of spirit.
    Governor Shumlin’s decision reflects those crippled priorities and the reality of the growing disparity of wealth bringing misery to millions, and the unwillingness of our elected leaders to find the courage to do anything about it.

    • Bruce Post

      You make many valid points, Al.

      Your last paragraph regarding “profligate military expenditures in support of an insupportable empire” is particularly relevant. Both Gov. Shumlin and Ernie Pomerleau, the real estate developer who compliments the Governor for “realism,” support bringing the wasteful, multi-billion dollar boondogle F-35 to Burlington.

      • Willem Post


        This is not about defense. It is about federal subsidies and JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.

    • Moshe Braner

      Exactly. Shumlin says that we “can’t afford” single payer, but clearly we are “affording” the health care now – just barely, and it’s getting worse every year as prices rise and real incomes fall for the 99%. What he really means is: I can’t politically afford to shift enough of the burden onto the rich to make this worth doing. All the talk about a payroll tax was an effort to avoid the income tax – but couldn’t do the trick.

      Of course single payer per se never could give everybody better health care for less money. What it is really about is a combination of a shift of some of the cost from the have-nots onto the haves, and a recognition of the reality that (with or without single-payer) we can’t keep increasing the spending on health care to the moon, and thus have to both limit care and limit payments. Single payer could never get off the ground without open, public, painful conversations about what health care is worth doing, how much is it worth in payment, and who should pay for it. None of this groundwork has been done.

      With new drugs with 6- or 7-digit price tags coming out every few weeks now, with the medical spending rushing past 20% of the GDP (while the real GPD, not counting hallucinated paper wealth, is decreasing), the current system is heading for the rocks in any case. The painful conversations will happen before long, like it or not.

      All the same concepts apply to education spending and its funding too, BTW. Or to pretending we are reducing greenhouse gases without raising rates nor cutting consumption. We have to stop glossing over reality, stop pretending we can do it all with no price to pay, and start talking about priorities and fairness.

  • Phyllis North

    I feel quite relieved to know he pulled the plug. His decision could be good for the state economy.

    • Willem Post


      With Single-Payer, Vermont would have become the Greece of New England

  • John Hess

    I get so tired of hearing about healthcare reform. Healthcare reform starts with health insurance reform. It is the insurance companies making health care unaffordable. Sometimes they won’t pay for a less expensive test/treatment but end up paying more for a more expensive test/treatment because the cheap one didn’t work. Need health insurance reform.

    • Mark Kevorkian

      Disagree. “Health Care Reform” starts with personal responsibility for one’s own health.

  • Willem Post


    It must have cost the state of Vermont at least $100 million to enable a posse of Single-Payer aficionados surrounding the governor to abuse and jerk around Vermonters for months on end with their vision of healthcare based on euphoria and predictions, that upon closer examination turned out to be too, too rosy-colored..

    Where is the apology? In Japan, such a leader would need to bow his head in shame.

    • Jim Mulligan

      Having been opposed since my Times-Argus Letter to the Editor of June 18, 1993 prompted
      by their “Payroll Tax Eyed To Pay For Health Care” story of June 8th when I read serious thought was being given to a payroll tax as high
      as 12.5%.

      I have but one question, make that two. When will an audit be done to determine the exact amount Mr Post speaks of and how will we be

  • Tom Pelham

    Ralph, it’s your time and money, not theirs.

    As we traveled along the road to single payer, many seasoned students of state government profiled the fiscal and political pitfalls of this pursuit. Here’s what I wrote in March, 2011, profiling the risky fiscal business and perfect political storm that might result from this pursuit.

    Others, like Kathy Callaghan, who ran the state employees’ health care plan, David Bellini who sits on its Board and Mike Bertrand, a former BISHCA Commissioner, among many others, raised numerous alarms along the way as did many citizens with common sense.

    But now we’ve arrived and Oh, the waste of so much time, so many millions of dollars and so much political capital. It became clear soon after the Hsiao Report that that those in the Administration and Legislature rowing the single payer boat had not learned from past failures and were driven by an ideological goal divorced from practical reality.

    Just imagine the lost opportunities the time and money dedicated to the single payer pursuit has cost Vermonters – four years and hundreds of millions. Further, the state budget is clearly in trouble and education funding and property taxes are at the boiling point. Going forward, Vermonters are well advised to judge our political and bureaucratic leaders not by what they say, but by what they’ve done. Massive failures on this scale are hard and costly lessons, but lessons none-the-less.

    • Willem Post



    • Wendy Wilton

      And here’s another prescient commentary to add to Tom’s work:

      • Tom Pelham

        Wendy….you deserve to take a bow at center stage for your work on this issue. Your voluntary fiscal analysis revealed the inconvenient truth, yet you had to absorb the slings and arrows from the die-hard believers and their often paid single payer advocates for the simple act of trying to be a good citizen and Vermonter. This week we learned that good intentions blindly pursued can have near the same result as bad intentions well pursued. Your follow-the-numbers pursuit of single payer finally became evident to our Governor, his staff and business advisors, and highly paid MIT advisors, though unfortunately a couple of years later and after great fiscal expense. Hopefully going forward on health care, the state budget, education funding reform and cleaning up Lake Champlain, for example, we can invest our energies in crafting and supporting well-balanced, non-partisan solutions that solve problems rather than resisting single minded efforts that threaten to destabilize our state.

    • Moshe Braner

      You’re mixing apples and hyenas. The big money was NOT spent on single-payer, it was spent to implement the “exchange” forced on us by the feds.

      • Willem Post


        Vermont’s VERSION of the exchange?

      • Jim Christiansen

        I believe that one of the reasons Vermont chose to build its own site for the ACA, rather than use the feds template, was to be able to tailor unique requirements for later use as Vermont’s single payer web portal.

        So yes, some of the 100+ million spent to date on Vermont’s version of the the ACA website is attributable to Vermont’s push for single payer.

        The ACA was forced on us, by Democrats in Washington.

      • Tom Pelham

        The $100+ million and still counting Vermont Exchange was not forced on us by the feds. It was a choice made here in Vermont in anticipation of single payer and to handle the unique qualities of Vermont’s transition to Obamacare and single payer in Act 48 such as forcing employers into the exchange vs. the voluntary approach in other states. Here you can see a profile comparing total budget and cost per enrollee of state exchanges through March 31, 2014 and that Vermont was in the top tier among the 50 states. Unfortunately, despite this relatively high expense, Vermont’s exchange still faces many challenges as well chronicled here on Digger.

  • Pete Novick

    A tip o’ the hat to Governor Shumlin. It’s refreshing to have a governor who is willing to switch gears when it makes fiscal sense to do so.

    Besides, it may make more sense to see how the roll out of PPACA goes in our state and once we have a better understanding of quality of care and costs, revisit the single payer plan.

    Also, K-12 costs and funding is likely to dominate the upcoming legislative session, and given how much downside potential there is in for form of rising costs and rising taxes, it is prudent not to try to tackle single payer health care.

    Last, when the governor does decide to try for single payer again, I would strongly recommend he adopt a more open process and include all stakeholders at every step of the way.


  • Dave Bellini

    The legislature can still act to make healthcare more affordable to all Vermonters. All Vermonters should be able to access care without going broke. There needs to be both greater regulation and competition.
    All Vermonters should know the price of care BEFORE they receive it. Not 4 months later in some cryptic “explanation of benefits.” Two identical MRI’s for the same exact scan, with the same exact code, using the same machine can vary in price by 300%. Where it’s possible, hospitals should be required by law to tell patients and the public how much care costs in advance. The price for an office visit to a Doctor should be posted.

    Oil Change – $35
    Wash/Wax/Interior – $125

    15 min office visit – ?
    30 min office visit – ?

    It probably can’t be done for everything but there has to be a first step. If Vermonters started asking the price of care in advance, even if they have insurance, hospitals and Doctors would respond and it would become part of the landscape.

    The legislature could mandate that insurance companies disclose their provider discounts. Let the sun shine in there. Quarterly statements from insurance companies to patients listing how much you paid, how much the insurance company paid in claims and how much the insurance company made.

    • Annette Smith

      Agreed, there is plenty to do. I’m going to keep talking about it because the bill is still sitting on my desk and hanging around my neck — $1038 for a routine fecal exam that would have cost $75 for my dog at the vet’s, to diagnose the most common food-borne bacteria. Not okay. Tell patients the basic costs up front.

      • Willem Post


        Post rates on the internet, so one can go to the lowest cost provider of what ever medical service

    • That would help…hospital administrators also part of the problem!

    • Neil Johnson

      Couldn’t agree more. I went in from what I think was a panic attack, and let me tell you they tested, scanned and tested up the wazoo. I asked them when I first came in, am I having a heart attack. They were all emphatic no way. But they tested like crazy as I have good insurance. My co pay was $800. At the end of the visit I asked, so why was I feeling so bad? “I don’t know” was the response. Looked on the internet and low an behold, panic attack. They didn’t even ask if I was under a ton of stress. It was an expensive night at the movies that night. It’s not about medicine it’s about making big money.

  • Nick Spencer

    Wow. Like a big Christmas dinner, almost too much to digest all at once. To Peter Shumlin, I give a reluctant thumbs up for acknowleging reality although this could have been done about a year ago and certainly prior to his recent half-victory in the election. Good luck with the secret ballot in January. To James Haslam and the “slap in the face of people who worked really hard”, I give a moment to think about the people who actually go out every day and work “really hard” and would have seen 20 percent of what they earn taken from them to pay for this. And finally, to Anthony Pollina, I’m at a loss. A man who’s only business experience seems to have been running the Vermont Milk Company into the ground in record time with a quarter million in start-up subsidies should not be making financial decisions for Vermont.Should be an interesting legislative session!

  • Shumlin has said from the beginning that if the numbers didn’t work in his opinion he wouldn’t continue pushing on. As he said so he did.

    • Robert Joseph

      From the beginning? You sure about that?

  • ray giroux

    What if $100,000,000 and many years of work would have been put toward creating jobs? Building a platform toward the goal of creating this healthcare plan.

    Rather than creating a robust job market base, which would generate income, our Progressive friends instead chose to “Centralize” this process, thinking it could work from the top down. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, this is the progressive way, all power to the Government.

    I hope everyone can see that we need to take our State in a very different direction.

    After the smoke clears from this debacle, we have a chance to rise from the ashes in 2016.

    Our State is in this situation because our State Sovereignty has been kicked to the curb, totally ignoring the tenth Amendment to the Constitution and State Powers, being highjacked by Progressivism and working toward [t]hat ideology. It had nothing to do with the People of Vermont. It came from the top down, total Government Power.

    Article X of the Bill of Rights

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People”.

    We must keep in mind that the Federal Government is controlled by Big Pharm and Corporations. Our State Leaders bow to every whim that comes down from the Feds, leading us further and further toward complete control of our lives. We cannot continue to exist, as a State, if we let this continue. Federal mandates, start up money, grants, special interest and an ongoing influx of NGOs bring policy into our State, with no resistance, has to end.

    Healthcare was made expensive by Big Pharm, education was made expensive by the Feds and Oligarchs who funded Foundations to make policies and create curriculums that only serve their own desire, obedient workers. The cost of our education system has become monolithic, unaffordable.

    If we want healthcare we need jobs. This is what I come away with from this whole debacle of Shumlin and his desire to be a Rock Star, on our dime. He is a player and should not be let off the hook, not now, not ever. He squandered our landscape and he squandered our money, all for his own gain. His “Race to the Top”.

    In 2016 we have a chance to turn this around, return to a more workable landscape and work toward regaining our State Sovereignty.

    We should never forget what the Progressives have put us through, all done for their ideology – BIG Government!

    • Beverly Biello

      Ray, I Totally agree that more, better paying jobs in this state would help in so many ways: reducing poverty would help our education system, the state could raise more revenue, we would have more money to better protect our environment, care for fellow Vermonters who need it, on and on and on. Let’s stop shoring up act 250, streamline the permitting process and make it easier for existing businesses to operate, for new businesses to start up, and desirable for companies to relocate here. Until this happens, we are going to be a very poor state, without having enough money to do much but try to keep our overtaxed heads above water.

  • Michael Saunders

    Shumlin should have worn a pirate hat to this one.

  • Lyle M. Miller, Sr.

    Now that Mr. Shumlin has pulled the plug on his pipe dream after wasting so much of out money, I believe it is time for a thorough investigation into this matter and also it is time for the Democrats in Montpelier to elect Scott Milne as our new Governor. Shumlin has ducked the real issue for too long and waste too much money to be allowed to continue in office.

    • Willem Post



  • Kathy Callaghan

    “His reasoning about the ability of the state of Vermont to go it alone shows wisdom and courage in that he made a tough but realistic call.”

    No, his assumption that the our small state could go it alone shows the opposite of wisdom. Wisdom would have been accepting that the financial writing was on the wall long ago, and not putting Vermonters through this long and costly slog. For example, he could have listened to Wendy Wilton years ago, who accurately forecast the same results that hundreds of millions of misspent dollars have now bought us.

    Think of what we could have done to help uninsured Vermonters with all the money that was wasted.

    I’m not sure what happened to the claim that “we’re already spending $2.5b or whatever the sum on premiums and health care costs now”? If that had been true, how is it that we can’t afford single payer with the money we’re currently spending?

    The real fallout of this single payer attempt is that the Governor and his administration have made many inaccurate or untrue statements. It will be difficult to believe anything we hear from them going forward, and that is truly unfortunate.

    • John Elliot

      Kathy, I strongly agree. Governor Shumlin should have figured this out long ago. I think he did, but he prolonged the uncertainty for political reasons.

      • Willem Post


        He “figured out”, demagogued Vermont Yankee for years to jerk around Vermonters and get elected and now 650 high paying jobs and about 4,800,000 MWh/yr of low cost, near-CO2 free energy is lost to Vermont and New England, AND he is now “figuring out” to replace that clean energy with renewable energy that is 3-4 times more expensive.

        • Willem Post


          …….VY has one of the highest capacity factors, about 0.90, in the US, and in the world, for about 4 decades!!!!.

  • Bob Stannard

    Gov. Shumlin could just have easily waited until mid-January to deliver this message. This took enormous courage to make this announcement now; prior to the upcoming legislative vote.

    It’s better than to have tried and failed; then to never have tried at all.

    • Jim Christiansen

      I agree, and Mr. Milne should be allowed the same opportunity.

    • J. Scott Cameron

      He could have made this announcement in October, before the election. That would have shown real courage. He had the information well before that date.

      True Believers in single payer will be at the Statehouse today, venting their anger at the fact that the dream is over. True believers in Shumlin will stay home and pen comments praising his courage and honesty on Vermont Digger.

    • Willem Post


      You have it backwards.

      There is no way he would have been elected for an undeserved third term by the legislature, while pushing for $2.6 billion in NEW taxes, FOR STARTERS.

  • Bill Olenick

    Someone please take a hard look at the Swiss healthcare system.
    It works well and is loaded with common sense which is something lacking in Washington and Montpelier today…

  • Mary Daly

    Way back in the beginning of this discussion, a Healthcare forum was held in Bradford. During the discussion an insurance broker explained there were not enough people in the State of Vermont to create a large enough Risk Pool to make it cost effective. The response was that that information had been heard before. So see, we could have avoided all this a long time ago.

    • Willem Post


      It also shows such forums are hogwash PR efforts to delude Vermonters.

  • I concur with folks out there advocating for price transparency. There’s no good reason why identical services should have such widely varying costs. I have seen this first hand in my work with self-insured companies seeking to reduce plan costs.

    What we witnessed yesterday is the acknowledgment of what happens when we reach structural limitations. We’ll keep hitting the wall until we decide to change the structure and we can’t shoe-horn one big structure into another big structure. In the meantime, it’s better to try some other, more bottoms-up, approaches – one of which is to encourage pricing transparency. Massachusetts just made this discovery and perhaps this is something the Vermont legislature can reasonably sink it’s teeth into this coming session, or at least during the biennium. According to the article below, Vermont gets a ‘C’ for transparency (for context, not too different from our infrastructure grade!). Let’s do something about it!

  • John Walters on his VPO blog seems to be the only one today who acknowledges this total vindication of Wendy Wilton.

    On her own time and with her own resources, she correctly estimated the cost of single-payer when she was the Republican nominee for state treasurer in 2012: “The revised cost estimate for single payer — $2.6 billion a year — is almost exactly what Wendy Wilton, then-Republican candidate for Treasurer, estimated two years ago.”

    Thank you, Wendy Wilton, for your competent and prescient public service. It’s too bad Shumlin & Co didn’t listen to you then instead of spending all this time and all of our money on a daydream.

  • Janice Prindle

    I’m reading a lot of I Told You So unpleasantness here from people who did not, it seems, have a better idea to insure all Vermonters, or in some cases who appear not to think that is a worthy goal.

    I note that a big factor in the decision was the loss of anticipated federal funds. The game changed. That is not an issue of competence — it seems rather that competence was exercised by a willingness to face hard facts despite political fallout. I say this without any specially warm feelings for Shumlin, but at least he tried, and deserves credit for that. And “he” didn’t waste “our” money, he was acting with a broad electoral mandate when he started.

    • Willem Post


      Shulman NEVER had a broad electoral mandate.

      He was elected by the legislature, then squeaked in during a Democrat landslide, then he needs to be elected again by the legislature!!!

      A broad mandate? Have some more of the governor’s Kool-Aid.

      • Willem:

        As usual, you’re absolutely correct by saying that Shumlin NEVER had a broad mandate in 2010, the election that lead to his push to pass Act 48.

        Here’s actually how close the 2010 election was starting with the Democratic primary:

        Democratic Primary : Top two finishers

        Shumlin 18,276 votes or 24.8%

        Racine 18,790 votes or 24.6%

        So Shumlin squeaked into the general election by a slim 197 votes over Racine…….no where near mandate territory.

        The 2010 General Election:

        Shumlin 119,543 votes or 49.5%

        Dubie 115,212 voted or 47.7%

        Another squeaker for Shumlin and not even a majority.

        So Peter Shumlin got into the Governor’s office in 2010 with less half the vote, again no where near a “broad electoral mandate” and jammed through Act 48 as if he had a 90% majority of the vote.

        This should be reason for some serious reflection by the legislature on how a Governor with less than half the vote in 2010 was able to push through ACT 48, which has proven to be so wrong.

        • Willem Post


          The Democrat dominated legislature is seriously dysfunctional.

          It passed centralized public education financing and it has become a disaster for Vermont’s near-zero-growth economy.

  • Jim Dudley

    This may have been covered in one of the comments but if not: Why did it take 3 years and millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars to find out. Back of the envelope arithmetic provided that answer years ago. Inept at best; disingenuous and misleading at worst. Shame!!

  • Kelly Cummings

    The problem I see here is the repeated reference to money. Not people.

    As long as insurance companies remain in control of our healthcare we will not be healthy. We will never be able to afford it. And it will not get better with them involved, it will only get worse.

    We must remember insurance companies are in it for the money. That’s it. That’s all.

    The saddest part of this whole thing is the human toll.

    And it is the human aspect that is continually pushed to the back burner.

    This saddens me a great deal.

    It’s like our moral compass is just spinning spinning out of control.

    We must do better.

    And if not now, when?

    At some point

    • Jennifer Roberts

      “As long as insurance companies remain in control of our healthcare we will not be healthy. ”

      We’ve been dubbed one of the healthiest staes in the country. IMHO, this statement is not accurate. What we have is an aging population that need healthcare. I’m glad the the Gov. has finally seen the light. Now the focus can be on reducing taxes and creating jobs. So far, he has wasted his time under the dome.

      • Define morality, Kelly, and how .gov will enforce it without tyranny to many, please?

  • Mark Huntley

    reading most of these responses has given me a sik day, and since i have no health ins, im heading the e.r….so t.y. for the xmas gift–

  • Seth Henry

    This provides a great opportunity as now that single payer is done we have no reason for the science project known as Vermont Health Connect! We can move to the federal exchange for about what we are spending every month on that boondoggle.

    • David Dempsey

      Shumlin could have just as easily have announced this 2 years ago if he had not broken the law by failing to issue a financing plan then.

      • David Dempsey

        Sorry Seth,
        My previous reply was for Bob Stannard. I couldn’t agree more with you about trashing the VHC. Shumlin should do exactly what you and Scott Milne are saying, get rid of VHC, join the federal exhange, ditch the ridiculous mandatethat forces Vermonters to use VHC. We need let other insurance companies operate in Vermont to create some competition. VHC now sends some people late notices for bills already paid. If you have a baby, it can take months to get the child on your plan. People with these problems are being asked to pay bills upfront because providers can’t verify their enrollment status. The people of Vermont are the ones suffering from the incompetance of the states health care officials.

  • Walter Cooper

    Two things ultimately doomed the financing plan:

    1) Vermont does not have international borders and thus could not prevent capital flight; and

    2) Public employees have a deal that VT could not afford to match for all.

    The effort was successful in highlighting the many protected classes in Vermont. It was also damaging by forcing a re-evaluation for many Vermonters, cost a ton to investigate, and likely eroded the tax base.

    Keep in mind the Act 60 is not close to fixed.

  • All there is to say the other countries in the advanced world must be run by geniuses since they have been able to run their health care systems at half of our cost per capita with universal coverage and better results. This one main reason why the U.S. ranks so low on the happiness index. However, that doesn’t seem to matter here.

    • J. Scott Cameron

      Last time I looked, Vermont was not a country.

    • paul lutz

      As long as we rank first on the “freedom index Jerry, you can have the rest. That is what you don’t get.

      • Exactly what freedoms don’t they have? Have you ever been Western Europe or even Canada? If not, you might find it enlightening. Besides, working at a job you don’t like because of benefits isn’t what most would call “Freedom!”

        • paul lutz

          LOL If you don’t know, then you don’t get it.

          I don’t work at a job I don’t like.

    • Craig Powers

      Vermont is not a country. I guess Gov. Shumlin must have finally realized that.

  • walter moses

    Moshe Braner has it right in the above post. This was a purely political decision made by a man with purely political motives and lacking the courage to do what needed to be done to see his dream become reality.

  • Peter Everett

    On a scale of 1 – 10, my disdain for the Gov is somewhere around 2,491. That said, I applaud him for the move he made.
    Yesterday, before the announcement, my wife and I had real serious talks about relocating to another state if this were to go through. Now, we may be able to stay a while longer.
    I think I can lower my rating to 2,479. Hopefully, he’ll work to lower it further.

  • Okay, single payer is dead.

    Now its time to get back to work to make our health care system work better as many problems continue to exist.

    So what’s the Governor to do:

    1. Learn from past mistakes. Recognize and admit flawed thinking early and move on to other options.

    2. Operate with a willingness to listen to those who may have contrary views on the best way to proceed. Decide issues based on merit and not political expediency or ideology.

    3. Decide what to do with the existing health care exchange. Stop putting good money after bad. If solutions are not eminent or future benefits are not justified by costs or costs are simply unaffordable then move to the federal exchange.

    4. Cost control is critical. The role of the Green Mountain Care Board is paramount. Working with the health care providers the board must work smart meaning containing costs without undo harm service quality or availability.

    5. A plan to deal with the uninsured or seriously underinsured needs to be developed using/expanding existing programs if possible.

    6. Determine how the insurance companies contribute to making the system work more cost effectively.

    This list was developed in five minutes and criticism is welcomed, but its a start. The point is that its time to get to back to work on the health care system problems that continue to exist.

    The objective should not be ” To be first in the country”, but the best that Vermont can afford.

    • Willem Post


      Forget about healthcare; it is a nightmare.

      You forgot the most important parts.

      Here is my list:

      – Get rid of the posse of Single-Payer Kool-Aid drinkers that surrounding and befuddling him.

      – Bring in level-headed Douglas as an advisor.

      – Clean house.

      – Make a fresh start.

      – Get the moribund, near-zero-growth economy growing again

      – Raise the minimum wage to $15

      – REDUCE the state budget and headcount.

  • Chet Greenwood

    Shumlin should have asked Wendy Wilton to be on one of his panels when this first started instead of appointing just those with tunnel vision for single payer.
    Wendy had all the facts and figures from the beginning and no one in this Administration would give her the time of day and just tossed her projections in the basket.
    Sometimes EGO gets in the way and in Shumlin’s case it was in the way until Nov 4th.
    We can also thank Darcie Johnson for keeping this front and center and not letting this Administration hide the facts.

  • Rich Lachapelle

    The main argument made by the left for a universal/single payer system has been to take the profit out of the evil private insurance system and use the savings to cover the uninsured. Does anyone really believe that having unionized public-sector employees take it’s place will provide any savings at all? And a govt-run bureaucracy will have little motivation to root out fraud.
    Single payer health care is nothing more than the final piece to the welfare puzzle that will kill one of the last motivations to be employed, having health care benefits.

  • Judith McLaughlin

    Sen. Anthony Pollina, D/P/W-Washington, said it’s premature to write off significant health care reform this session.

    “I think there are ways Vermonters can put their heads together and build upon what we have in a way that really works,” Pollina said. “I think that the governor saying he can’t make it happen does not translate into thinking that the Legislature can’t make it happen because he has a credibility problem, and I don’t think the Legislature does.”

    My mother used to tell me “never ignore the troll in the room. You have no idea the havoc it can wreak”.

    We should not forget that is was the Legislature that passed Act 48. Shumlin may have been the Captain, but the Legislature was the rudder steering that ship.

    We should give credit and blame where it is properly due.

    • Willem Post


      Here is a more accurate analogy:

      The legislature was Shumlin’s CREW.

      It was Shumlin setting the course and steering the ship onto the rocks.


    We have been there at least twice before and we still got to this current push for single payer. Community Rating and Guaranteed Issue was a compromise after then Governor Dean backed off from a single payer push for almost the exact same reasons. (The numbers did not add up) Catamountant Health was enacted as a compromise after then Governor Douglas vetoed a single payer apporach because the numbers did not add up. The financing part of the Hasio-Gruber plan was rejected and the Green Mountain Care Board was put in place to come up with better numbers. Then we paid the Universtiy of Massachussetts $400,000 to come up with better numbers. Finally, we entered into a contract with Gruber for $400,000 to come up with better numbers and now Shumlin is telling us that there are no better numbers.

    The “foes of health care reform” need to push a patient centered alternative and not just oppose Shumlincare, or go along with the incremental steps in the same direction that has gotten us in this mess to begin with. Vermonters want a reform of the system and conservatives/libertarians agree with them. We just think that the direction of the “reform” that we have been taking is part of the problem. It is like starting a fire and offering to throw gasoline on it to put it out.

    • Willem Post


      He did not need $400,000 Gruber from MIT to tell him that. Vermont has Wendy, who told all a long time ago. Yikes.

      Getting input from the people is a joke.

  • dale tillotson

    Irene= many millions could not be helped natural disaster. FEMA helps out a little bit.
    Latest snowstorm=record damage could not be helped natural disaster. Come help us FEMA.
    Health care= disaster with set up of program system still not operating correctly costing many millions= man made disaster by Shumlin= could have been prevented.
    Single payer= not affordable= man made disaster by Shumlin already costing millions.
    Bottom Shumlin line = 2 man made’s and 2 natural disasters.
    Assignment for legislature= order an Independent investigation and upon the 110 million dollars in man made messes then order a special prosecutor to prosecute the Shumlin man made messes.

  • paul lutz

    Lets elect Ben Carson the next President of the US and adopt his healtcare plan. Great man.

  • Do not underestimate the people of Vermont! We want universal health care coverage for Vermonters, and we will see that it happens!

    My interpretation: the Governor too is utterly convinced and persuaded that Universal Health Care should happen. But as early as six months ago, prominent advocates such as State Senator Peter Galbraith were saying that if implemented on the Legislature’s deadline (2017), “single payer” would “destroy the Vermont Democratic Party”. Why would he say such a thing?

    The reason is that there is an absolute categorical imperative for true health care reform to effectively dismantle the current system. The reason the current system is so harmful is twofold: (1) because it is humongously expensive; and (2) because many people cannot afford health care as a result. The reason it is so expensive is that it is the vehicle for enormous profits for investors. Obscenely high profit margins prevail in the for-profit areas of the health care industry, especially in pharmaceuticals and in physician specializations. And of course the reason that many people are denied health care is obvious … they lack the incomes to purchase it.

    Implementation of single-payer universal health care needs to remain the objective of health care reform in Vermont. But it requires a stronger legislative mandate, for one thing. Laws supplementing the current acts have to be written and passed that will allow the government of the State of Vermont to mandate the consolidation of various companies now based in Vermont who insure Vermonters, and take away the Vermont policyholder base of companies located outside of Vermont. Current laws failed to foresee the difficulty of doing this.

    Here is what the end result of single payer should look like: the health insurance of all Vermonters will be consolidated into one company. Green Mountain Care is proposed to become that company. But perhaps there are not sufficient assurances that the process of devolving the covered policyholders of all companies into the coverage umbrella of one company will change the health care system in Vermont in a manner sufficient to effectively demolish the current paradigm, which allows for windfall profits and astoundingly high salaries and incomes to those employed in the system at the current time.

    What I have proposed is that the ultimate single payer company be constituted as a mutual health insurance company, owned by its policyholders (the people of Vermont), that profit-taking be forbidden to it, that the funds which support it should be segregated from the Vermont government’s general fund and established legally as a Trust for public health care, that Trustees be appointed (initially) then elected over time by the policyholders, and that the Trustees would have the legislative mandate to maximize coverage while minimizing expenses. It might also be helpful if some sort of law is passed forbidding people in Vermont from profiting (beyond some definite point) off the suffering of others.

    So what is going to happen? New legislation will be written that extends the timeline for implementation of single-payer universal health care. Different groups of people’s legitimate concerns will be addressed, such as allowing Medicare and the Federal employees’ health insurance systems to be ‘grandfathered’ into the new scheme as ‘primary payors’. A timeline will be composed which tracks the consolidation of all other existing health care systems in the state, and legislative mandates will be written and passed which permit this to happen. But not by 2017.

    And when Vermont has done what it needs to do to guarantee health care coverage to all Vermonters, it will not be “single payer” because there will still be a handful of other “legacy” payers involved. So yes, the Governor is right on the money … it is money difficulties which render impossible the implementation of “single payer” by 2017. The reality is that there will never be “single payer” until the region, or the entire country, adopt it. Until then, there will still be multiple payers. The opportunity still exists to overturn and replace the current terribly expensive and exclusive system … and we can, and must, do it.

    • Willem Post


      All people agree the US healthcare system is to expensive on a per capita basis.

      Many reforms have been tried on the national level.

      By far the best one was Medicare, courtesy of Lyndon Johnson.

      It is powerful enough to negotiate discounts from providers, Vermont is not.

      Medicare is for people 65 years and older

      It should be expanded to include people 50 years and older. People between 50 and 65 are usually fired due to high medical costs.

      Then, it should be further expanded to 40 years and older, etc.

      That way provider procedures become standardized throughout the US and less costly.

      Here is some history:

      Germany has had national healthcare since about 1870, courtesy of Bismarck.

      The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and some other occupied countries have had national healthcare since about 1940, courtesy of Hitler.

      East Europe has had national healthcare (and free college/university education) since about 1945, courtesy of Stalin.

  • Allan Rodgers

    The wasted $100,000,000 could have…

    ~ covered all the tuition for nearly all the students in the Vermont State Colleges this year, or

    ~ rebated about $350 for each Vermont tax payer, or

    ~ covered the year’s budget shortfall.

    Can someone explain why voters should affirm the same thinking that made these decision leading to such wastefulness?

  • I wonder how Rickover would have felt about single payer and taxpayers getting the best for their contribution within the single payer system.

    Anyone else watch PBS?