Single-Payer Advocates Issue Funding Report

MONTPELIER — A group that helped build the political will for single-payer health care in Vermont has issued a report telling elected officials how to pay for it.

The Health Care is a Human Right Campaign unveiled a 17-page proposal Monday in which it identifies a combination of income and payroll taxes as the most “equitable” means of financing the new system. More a conceptual framework than a solid proposal — the report doesn’t estimate overall system costs or calculate the dollar value of the new revenue streams — the report says its blend of financing options would place the lion’s share of the financial burden on those best able to afford it.

“And that’s been one of the key principles from the beginning,” said James Haslam, director of the Vermont Workers’ Center, which oversees the campaign. “The Shumlin administration is doing all the work to figure out how much it’s going to cost, and we’re essentially saying this is the most equitable way to come up with the money.”

Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said he was impressed with what he called a very well-written report. “It will be a helpful document as the dialogue on how to pay for single-payer takes place in the coming months and years,” Spaulding said.

As to the specific proposal, which would use a mix of corporate and personal income tax, combined with a “progressive” payroll tax, Spaulding said, “In general they make a strong case.”

“There is no question that the income tax is, in a sense, the most fair way to raise money,” Spaulding said. “And I think you also have to balance that with some other things so that we don’t overwhelm any particular revenue source. So a balancing test is also going to be required.”