Gov. Shumlin regrettably bails

Governor says: 'Now is not the time for single payer financing plan'

Times Argus, December 17, 2014

Gov. Peter Shumlin is backing away from a commitment to pass a single payer health care financing plan in Vermont in 2015. He just made the announcement at a press conference in Montpelier.


By Don McCanne, MD

Gov. Shumlin has provided a very valuable lesson for all of us. He did almost everything possible on a state level to try to establish a single payer system within Vermont. He has established the fact that, beyond all doubt, a bona fide single payer system is impossible to enact and implement on a state level without comprehensive enabling federal legislation.

We can be thankful to Gov. Shumlin for his valiant efforts. He has shown us that it is imperative that we continue with our efforts toward a goal of enactment of federal single payer legislation.

Those of us working on the state level still have very important work to do. We need to continue our education efforts on a local, statewide, and national basis. We will not have single payer until the people understand it and elect a Congress that will bring it to us.

There are other important health care measures that can provide some improvements in our dysfunctional health care system, and we should support those. But we cannot be fooled into thinking that these are incremental steps on the path to single payer. Our health financing infrastructure must be replaced with a single payer system. Mere patches, such as we see with the Affordable Care Act, fall far, far short of what we need, and will only perpetuate health care injustices.

We have plenty of dedicated people who will continue with efforts to provide the beneficial patches to our system, and we should support their work. But, above all, we need to regroup and intensify our efforts to educate the nation on the imperative of a federal solution. That must be our first and foremost priority. Nobody should become discouraged and start thinking of leaving our ranks. We need to get busy and recruit more soldiers for our cause, beginning today. We are fighting for the health of the nation.