Government & Politics

Vermont Leads the Way

Single-payer health care goes down because it costs too much.

Dec. 23, 2014
...in scrapping single-payer health care

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, announced that his state is tabling the idea of pursuing single-payer health care – a more pleasant term for socialized medicine – citing that it would be too big a burden for his state’s citizens and businesses to bear. It would have cost the small state $2 billion to pull off the leftist magic trick of providing “free” health care for all its inhabitants. The only way to pay for that would have been an 11.5% payroll tax on businesses and a hike on the income tax to 9.5%. Thank goodness for federalism.

Though Shumlin called the decision “the greatest disappointment of my political life so far,” he bitterly clings to hope. “Medicare took 31 years to become law,” he said, “Medicaid took 50 years to pass. Social Security took 25 years. Our time will come.” Not exactly great examples to cite, since those very same entitlements are driving state and federal budgets off a fiscal cliff.

Shumlin, a lifelong statist, is unashamed of his stance, despite the fact that he has not technically been elected to a new term. He beat Republican Scott Milne by just 2,095 votes out of nearly 200,000 cast in the November election. And Vermont law states that any race without a clear majority must be decided by the state legislature.

Vermont’s heavily Democrat state legislature is sure to re-elect its enfeebled incumbent governor, but that isn’t stopping Milne from proudly proclaiming the death of the single-payer initiative. “I said during the debates,” Milne told National Review Online, “The difference between Peter Shumlin and Scott Milne is that I will tell you before the election that single-payer is dead.”

In fact, Shumlin likely wouldn’t have won had he disclosed the cost of single-payer health care before Election Day.

Milne campaigned against single-payer insurance, saying it would bankrupt the tiny state. Despite its history of being a haven for just-this-side-of-socialist crackpot ideas, many Green Mountain State citizens were concerned about the hit to their wallets necessary to make single-payer a reality. For many, “free” health care just wasn’t worth the high price.

Shumlin’s other big plan of offering universal pre-K went down in defeat for the same reason. It seems that this governor likes to offer his citizens programs that sound rosy, but when it comes time to put pen to paper in the accounting department he gets a dose of reality.

Milne called out Shumlin not only for his unworkable single-payer plan, but also for spending precious state fiscal resources on research to implement the plan. Vermont paid some $400,000 alone to a certain MIT professor who professes expertise in health policy. Yes, that would be the infamous Jonathan Gruber.

The fact that Vermont couldn’t pull off single-payer health care doesn’t bode well for the great leftist experiment nationwide, though it certainly highlights the indispensable virtues of federalism. Not only has Socialist Bernie Sanders represented the state in the House and Senate since 1991, but the small state prides itself as the nation’s “workers paradise.” If Vermont can’t make this socialist dream happen, then who can?

Single-payer is simply not a workable option in the U.S., despite the best attempts of the Obama administration through ObamaCare. It’s less efficient and more expensive than private care, and we can thank Vermont for displaying that so clearly.

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