Single-Payer Health Care Did Not Fail in Vermont


The people intent on killing “Medicare for All” have found a convenient weapon—the fact that Vermont, Bernie Sanders’s own state, passed a law creating a single-payer system in 2011, then killed the idea in 2014 before it was ever implemented.

Conservatives and the for-profit health care industry portray this as a “failure” and a clear sign that a single-payer system like Medicare for All is simply foolish. They push the idea that Vermont’s plan, Green Mountain Care (GMC), failed because single-payer health care is unworkable, expensive, even dangerous. 

The supposed failure of single payer in Vermont was even used to attack the proposed single-payer plan in Colorado that was voted down in 2016.

In 2019, The Washington Post’s national health care policy writer, Amy Goldstein, wrote the article “Why Vermont’s single-payer effort failed and what Democrats can learn from it,” in which she quotes an anonymous “analyst” who says many advocates shared “a belief that borders on the theological” that the system would save money.

Since every reasonably objective analysis has found that an American single-payer system would cost less than the current system, that is hardly a “theological belief.” In fact, way back in 1991, the Government Accounting Office reported to Congress that if the United States adopted a Canadian-style system, “the savings in administrative costs alone would be more than enough to finance insurance coverage for the millions of Americans who are currently uninsured. There would be enough left over to permit a reduction, or possibly even the elimination, of copayments and deductibles.”

The Goldstein article and others like it are quickly added to the collection of scare pieces that the health care industry’s designated single-payer attack group, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, uses to terrify anyone who even thinks about single-payer health care. 

Vermont’s single-payer plan did not fail in operation. Then-Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, killed it unilaterally in December 2014 before it was ever implemented. So how can Vermont serve as an example of what to expect if Medicare for All is implemented?

Read the full article at The Progressive.