Plain Dealer op-ed on single-payer health plans was inaccurate

By H.J. Bud McTaggart
Plain Dealer (Cleveland), Letters, Jan. 20, 2015

Editors of other publications should proofread Op-Eds for accuracy before they are published in The Plain Dealer.

"Vermont's example a telling lesson in fate of single-payer health plans" by Megan McArdle (Forum, Dec. 26) has one small problem: Vermont's legislation was not a single-payer plan.

The Vermont bill would have allowed private insurers to continue to operate in the state alongside many other types of plans – e.g. employer self-insured plans, private Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare, Medicaid, the federal employee private plans, etc. – in short, an array of multiple payers.

By retaining a multi-payer model of financing care, the Vermont plan couldn't achieve the administrative cost savings of a streamlined single-payer model. It also couldn't muster the bargaining clout of a would-be sole buyer of medical supplies, for example.

Lawmakers acknowledged this reality when they stripped the words "single payer" from the bill. In the end, the Vermont plan was much closer to the Affordable Care Act than an improved-Medicare-for-All model.

Many nations have shown us single-payer systems provide truly universal access to high-quality, effective care, with no co-pays or deductibles, for much less money that we're spending now.

Vermont shows us  as long as you retain multiple payers – particularly private insurance companies – you can't get the savings you need to equitably cover everyone at lower cost.

H.J. Bud McTaggart lives in Olmsted Township.