Vermont is on the verge of launching its new universal, publicly financed healthcare system, Green Mountain Care. The success of Green Mountain Care and its ability to comply with the State’s mandate ” to provide, as a public good, comprehensive, affordable, high-quality, publicly financed health care coverage for all Vermont residents in a seamless and equitable manner regardless of income, assets, health status, or availability of other health coverage” (Act 48) rests on critical decisions to be made in the 2015 legislative session. The Vermont Workers’ Center’s Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign has put forward five policy positions to guide the system’s implementation in order to comply with the principles in the law and fulfill everyone’s human right to health care. The policy positions (also available below as a PDF) are:
1. Universal access to care that meets all health needs
- Green Mountain Care must be adequately funded to meet health needs.
- The GMC financing plan must start with health needs and raise resources to follow those needs.
- Access to care must not be rationed by insurance “benefits packages.”
- Patients must receive care for all their health needs, including dental and vision.
2. Everyone contributes through equitable, progressive taxes; no more premiums
- GMC must be funded publicly through the tax system.
- Public financing must replace private insurance premiums.
- Individuals and businesses should contribute according to their ability to pay, in line with the principle of equity. This requires progressive taxes.
- GMC should be funded by a mix of income taxes (on earned and unearned income), wealth taxes and a graduated payroll tax for businesses, with exemptions for the smallest businesses.
3. No more out-of-pocket costs that restrict access to care
- Payment for healthcare must be independent from the use of care.
- GMC must eliminate deductibles and co-pays, which harm people’s health.
- Even small co-pays cause inequality in access to care and lead to poorer health outcomes, while failing to increase cost-effectiveness.
4. Universal = everyone
- Green Mountain Care must include everyone.
- This includes people employed by big, self-insured corporations. These workers should be able to join GMC, and big corporations doing business in Vermont should contribute to funding GMC.
5. Healthcare is a public good that should be publicly financed and administered
- As a public good, healthcare should be administered by a public agency that people can hold accountable. It should not be subcontracted to a private corporation that is looking to profit from healthcare.
- Human rights standards should apply to any public contract, in order to ensure that contractors cannot put profit interests over people’s needs.