As the Republican-controlled House this week voted to repeal President Obama's signature healthcare law by a margin of 245 to 189, the state of Vermont is taking matters into its own hands.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is leading the effort to create a single-payer healthcare system in his state. He was voted into office after making single payer a cornerstone of his campaign.
"If Vermont can get this right, the other states will follow," Shumlin said on Democracy Now! January 21.
Gov. Shumlin said:
I just see it very differently than the Republicans in Congress. I was elected governor to create jobs and to ensure that Vermonters have a better and more hopeful economic future. The biggest challenge for business in Vermont, or one of them, is the rising cost of healthcare. And I think what we want to do here in Vermont is to create a single pool, much like General Motors, Ford, Oracle, ensure that healthcare is a right and not a privilege, and use technology and other methods to contain cost. We want to have universal access. We want to be the first state where health insurance follows the individual and is not a requirement of the employer -- I think that will be a huge jobs creator. And most importantly, we have to contain cost.
Here's our challenge. Our premiums go up 10, 15, 20 percent a year. This is true in the rest of the country, as well. They are killing small business. They're killing middle-class Americans, who have been kicked in the teeth over the last several years. What our plan will do is create a single pool, get the insurance company profits, the pharmaceutical company profits, the other folks that are mining the system to make a lot of money on the backs of our illnesses, and ensure that we're using those dollars to make Vermonters healthy. So, a single pool that uses technology to ensure that we get rid of the waste and dedicate those dollars to making Vermonters healthy.
The current system in America is unaffordable. I think Democrats and Republicans can agree on that. If we stay on the current course, we will be spending the lion's share of our income on healthcare. It will bankrupt our businesses. It puts us at a competitive disadvantage with all of the other countries who have figured this out.
My vision is that if Vermont can get this right, the other states will follow.
For the complete transcript and audio/video podcasts, and for additional reporting on the movement to create single-payer healthcare in the United States, visit the Democracy Now! homepage. Join us on Facebook.