The state of Vermont is edging closer to a single-payer health system. The new system would have state residents transition into a publicly funded insurance program that would be responsible for paying hospital bills and other medical expenses. The system has received approval from the state Legislature and is to be built as soon as possible. Vermont is the first state in the U.S. to adopt a single-payer health system.
Legislators will have to iron out the specific regulations that will govern the system before anyone can begin using it. Governor Peter Shumlin, who first proposed the change when he took office at the beginning of the year, has been working with state regulators and insurance officials to determine what legislations should be enacted to make the system a reality. According to Shumlin, the system will ensure that all residents of Vermont will have access to comprehensive health insurance regardless of their socio-economic status.
Dubbed Green Mountain Care, the single-payer health system would be the first in the country and may serve as a standard for other states that may be considering adopting a similar system. As such, legislators are under pressure to produce new laws that make the system a success and ensure that consumers are well protected.
Insurance companies operating in Vermont are expected to participate in the system, but it is unknown how a federally mandated health insurance exchange program, which is meant to provide consumers with affordable health insurance, will affect the single-payer system or how insurers do business in the state.