With unanimous support from the 5 Democratic and 1 Republican Senators, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted Friday to recommend the passage of a "strike-all" version of S.88. The text showing what they replaced S.88 with can be found in Tuesday's Senate calendar, see pages 48 - 60, here:
The bill is likely to go to Senate Appropriations next, since it appropriates $300,000. This money is for the board charged with designing three healthcare systems and the consultant/expert to be hired to advise the board.
Long day in the committee room. Senator Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, read a letter that I believe came from a constituent of his. This person was writing about how ridiculous it is to keep jumping back-and-forth from Catamount and Vhap, each time his income rose or fell. The constituent complained how each time that this happened, he had to get new insurance cards, and was paying different premiums, deductibles, and co-pays with each one.
We now have a bill in the Vermont legislature that explicitly recognizes healthcare as a human right. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee today released this 'strike-all" version of S.88 (meaning that the entiretly of the text in S.88 as introduced has been striken and replaced by what appears below). As legislative council and Chair Doug Racine explained, this bill authorizes a commission to design 3 single-payer health care systems for the Vermont legislature to use in building a new health care system next legislative session.
Summary of House Health and Welfare Committee Hearings, Wednesday, February 17th:
On February 16, the Senate Health & Welfare Committee presented the following outline of proposed or potential pieces of a reform bill this year. Notably, when someone asked about universal coverage, noting the outline seems not to address this major point, the committee replied that the issue of universal coverage was being dealt with in the House Healthcare Committee. Its not clear how meaningful reform will be made without uniting these issues.
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.