If you’re looking for a state with a reliable Leftward tilt, you’d be hard pressed to do better than Vermont. After all, this is the place which has repeatedly elected Bernie Sanders – a man who considers the Democrat Party too conservative for his tastes – to statewide office since 1991. So in terms of socialist experimental laboratories, this is the spot where you’d want to launch progressive initiatives and take them for a test spin. That was the plan for Governor Peter Shumlin, who had promised his constituents that they would soon be enjoying the first in the nation single payer healthcare plan. But faced with the cold, harsh light of reality, that plan is now history.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin on Wednesday dropped his plan to enact a single-payer health care system in his state — a plan that had won praise from liberals but never really got much past the framework stage.
“This is not the right time” for enacting single payer, Shumlin said in a statement, citing the big tax increases that would be required to pay for it.
Shumlin faced deep skepticism that lawmakers could agree on a way to pay for his ambitious goal and that the feds would agree to everything he needed to create the first state-based single-payer system in 2017.
You can’t attribute the entire mess to one cause, but it certainly didn’t help Shumlin’s case to have Jonathan Gruber involved in the project to the tune of roughly $400K. The voters probably weren’t looking forward to being lectured on videotape about how stupid they are in 2015. But, again, that probably wouldn’t have been enough to scrap the plan by itself.
Far more of a problem was the fact that the project couldn’t be funded in a self-sustaining way without causing an all out revolt among the peasants. Individual taxpayers would have been subjected to a 9.5% “premium assessment” while businesses would have been paying an even larger tax hit. And all of the money wouldn’t have resulted in an actual single payer system anyway. Shumlin was going to have to exempt large companies with their own healthcare plans and people would have still been eligible for Medicare. The competing plans would have gutted the system which would have needed essentially 100% buy-in and contributions from every citizen to even have a chance of working.
But perhaps the most telling feature of this staggering failure was the fact that the plan could not work without a massive influx of federal dollars. They were not able to secure a guarantee that the money would be available and the project went under. Now imagine scaling that up to a national single payer plan. Who would be available further upstream to help fund that? Nobody. The money would all have to be extracted from the taxpayers and every business in the country. And if we managed to pull it off you could soon be enjoying the benefits of waiting for years to get an appointment or some critical surgery.
Vermont is clearly a leader in socialist experimentation. In this case they may have actually provided us with a valuable lesson in what not to do.