Universal Health Care Designs Introduced in Vermont


Dr. Hsiao, Harvard expert hired by Vermont, has proposed three universal health care models for Vermont. In his draft report  released at the Statehouse today, January 19, 2011, Hsiao presents detailed implementation plans for a human rights-based health care system. All designs must meet the principles of last year’s Universal Access to Health Care law, Act 128: universality, equity, transparency, accountability, participation, and health care as a public good. 

Over the coming days, NESRI partner the Vermont Workers’ Center will begin assessing the options laid out in the report.  To do that, we will use “Detailed Human Rights Standards for Healthcare Systems,” an assessment tool that turns the principles of Act 128 into specific policy questions.

Today begins a 15 day public comment period during which everyone can submit questions to Dr. Hsiao about technical aspects of the report, including the methodology his team used to collect information.  Following this period the final report will be released on February 17, launching the debate over which design to select for implementation.

Listen to Dr. Hsiao’s presentation, watch it on video, or download the draft report.

Read the Vermont Workers’ Center’s op-ed in the Times-Argus and Rutland Herald, published on January 23, 2011.


Initial press reactions to Hsiao’s presentation by AP and the Burlington Free Press:

Push for single-payer health care grows in Vt.
Jan 19, 2011 10:01am

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — An international health care consultant says Vermont could provide every resident with health insurance, upgrade outdated hospitals and still save money if would just adopt a single-payer health care system.

Harvard health care economist William Hsiao (Show) was hired by the state Legislature to come up with three designs for a new health care system. He says getting one entity — either a government agency or a private company hired by government — to process claims would save $2.1 billion in health spending by 2025.

He’s calling for reform of the medical malpractice system, a payroll tax to finance the system and other streamlining of the health care system.

Hsaio made his presentation before a packed House chamber at the Vermont Statehouse Tuesday morning.

Legislature hears report on single-payer health care system

MONTPELIER – A consultant hired by the Legislature proposed Wednesday the state could remedy its broken health care system with a single-payer system managed through a public/private partnership.

Such a system would offer essential coverage – equivalent to what most Vermonters have today – and cost most employers and workers less than if no reform takes place, Dr. William Hsiao, a Harvard economist and health system expert reported to lawmakers.

“We find what we are proposing is affordable to Vermont and will save some,” Hsiao said in a media briefing prior to presenting the report to the Legislature.

The recommended plan, one of three Hsiao and a team of 20 analyzed for Vermont, would generate 8 to 12 percent savings quickly through consolidated administration. Those savings could be used to expand coverage to Vermonters without health insurance now, to bolster primary care and to strengthen some of the state’s hospitals.

The system would be paid for through a payroll tax levied on all employers and workers. Businesses could continue to offer private health insurance if they chose, but they wouldn’t avoid the tax. Workers could purchase supplementary coverage if they wanted more than the essential package.

The benefit package would include dental coverage for children and vision coverage for all Vermonters.

Gov. Peter Shumlin praised the report and Hsiao.

“He had taken a very pragmatic approach and that is what we need right now.”


Here’s a selection of subsequent media coverage:

Vermont Governor Shumlin Moves to Creat Single-Payer Healthcare System
, Democracy Now, January 21, 2011