Today Vermont is set to make history by becoming the first state in the nation to offer universal, single-payer healthcare when Gov. Peter Shumlin signs its healthcare reform bill into law. The Vermont plan, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will attempt to stem rising medical care prices and provide universal coverage. We speak with Dr. Deb Richter, president of Vermont Health Care for All. She moved from Buffalo, New York, to Vermont in 1999 to advocate for a universal, single-payer healthcare system in the state. Gov. Shumlin calls her the “backbone” of the grassroots effort that helped persuade the Democratic-led state legislature to pass the bill this spring.
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JUAN GONZALEZ: Today, Vermont is set to become the first state in the nation to offer single-payer healthcare when Governor Peter Shumlin signs its healthcare reform bill into law. The cost of healthcare has risen sharply in Vermont in recent years, as it has everywhere in the country. The Vermont plan, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will attempt to stem that rise and also provide universal coverage. Every Vermont resident will be eligible for coverage under the state-run health plan.
Earlier this year, Governor Shumlin explained to Democracy Now! why the state needs the change.
GOV. PETER SHUMLIN: Here’s our challenge. Our premiums go up 10, 15, 20 percent a year. This is true in the rest of the country, as well. They are killing small business. They’re killing middle-class Americans, who have been kicked in the teeth over the last several years. What our plan will do is create a single pool, get the insurance company profits, the pharmaceutical company profits, the other folks that are mining the system to make a lot of money on the backs of our illnesses, and ensure that we’re using those dollars to make Vermonters healthy.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Governor Shumlin has appointed a five-member board to determine payment rates for doctors and what benefits to cover. Given all the details that need to be worked out, the plan may not go into effect until 2017.
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