Vermont Senate passes health care bill that includes provision for a single payer option

Bill calls for custom-designed health care system

MONTPELIER, VT — With an overwhelming 28-2 vote, the Senate today passed the Healthy Vermont bill (S.88). Senator Doug Racine (D-Chittenden) and the Health and Welfare Committee brought the bill to the Senate floor.

The bill empowers the Health Care Reform Commission to hire a team of experts to custom design a health care system for Vermont. The experts will bring at least three options to the governor and legislature early next year, and one of those options must be a “single payer” plan.

“This bill recognizes that we need help to take the next step in health care reform,” Racine explained on the Senate floor. “We want to focus expert attention on this issue and make sure we have a health care system that is specially designed to meet the needs of Vermonters.”

The bill represents an agreement between the Health and Welfare Committee and the Appropriations Committee. Racine worked with the committees to reach consensus on the key elements of the bill. “It’s important that there is buy-in and commitment to moving this process forward,” he noted. “Change can be threatening, but right now, it is riskier for us to do nothing at all because health care costs are escalating at an alarming rate.”

The overall goal of the bill is “to ensure universal access and coverage for health services for all Vermonters.”

The Senate will give final approval to the bill tomorrow, and then it will go on to the House for consideration.