"Big Breakthrough in Senate Health & Welfare" People's Team Blog 2/11/2010

The Health Care is a Human Right campaign gained a huge victory today: Doug Racine, the Chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, announced that he has asked for a bill to be drafted that would 'radically' change the way we fund and pay for health care in Vermont, in a way that will probably look like single payer and would be an acceleration of the time line laid out in S.88. This bill would be a committee bill that the committee would work on getting ready for passage this year. Racine said that everyone – including Governor Douglas' spokesperson Susan Besio and the legislature's hired consultant Ken Thorpe – agrees that the cost containment suggestions made to date are not sufficient to make our health care system sustainable. That is why we need radical change in the way we fund and pay for health care. And, Racine said, we need to move away from a system based on employers providing health insurance.

The committee bill is now being drafted, and of course there will be a lot of committee discussion around that bill. Doug Racine sees three parts to the bill: (A) Accountable Care Organizations to provide integrated care and a medical home for each patient (More on what this means later), (B) Reoganization of state government to ensure that all health care related work is coordinated and (C) A new funding and payment system.

Although Sen. Racine did not say he would use our HcisHR proposal for a blended bill(see testimony of 1/29/2010), he does plan to propose a bill that is like S.88 with more details. He expects the financing to look something like a single payer plan or Rep. Poirier's 'public option' bill (H.510). The financing would not be determined in this bill, but would be given to a group or a consultant to design a health care financing system (not study it) and then report back on that plan in January, 2011. The plan would not be abstract recommendations but would be a detailed design of a system: how much money needs to be raised, how will it be raised, and how will it be spent.

The committee also discussed that many believe that the apparent failure to accomplish health care reform in D.C. will result in the Obama administration looking very favorably on enabling states to act as health care laboratories, including the grant of waivers where the states may need them.

Following this committee meeting, the House and Senate met together to hear, among other things, about how the Canadian single payer health system works. There was also discussion in the House Health Committee in the morning about expanded use of “The Blueprint”, which is essentially a chronic disease management system. There was no evidence presented this morning about the outcomes of the use of the Blueprint to date.


Hey Cassandra:

Had not heard about this. Nice post here. Has Racine really gone as far as this? If he has, that is excellent. The house will most likely follow, judging by the kind of debates that they had on Friday.