The Commission that will put together the nuts and bolts of Vermont's single-payer health care system in time for 2014 has been named as is ready to get to work:
Vermont took an important step Tuesday in the long and difficult climb toward a radical overhaul of its health care system.
Gov. Peter Shumlin unveiled his appointments in Montpelier to the five-member Green Mountain Care Board, which will lead the state to a first-in-the-nation "single-payer" health care system.
(And yes, for those who will inevitably object, it's not "really" single-payer, although we don't really know yet what the Commission will ultimately devise)
The Commission is composed of five members. Leading it is one of the leaders of the Vermont single-payer movement, Anya Wallack.
Heading the panel is Anya Rader Wallack of Calais, who spearheaded the effort in the administration to pass Act 48 in the past session of the Legislature, setting the path toward a single-payer plan...
Here she is with Vermont's Governor in 2010:
Another member is a former Vermont Human Services Secretary and advocate of health reform, Con Hogan.
Best known of the four other committee members is Con Hogan of Plainfield, a longtime advocate of health reform and highly regarded veteran state official..
The three remaining slots were filled by the Governor with two physicians and a small businessman.
Dr. Karen Hein called soaring health costs "the biggest humanitarian and economic threats to our country" and said the current system is not working...
Dr. Allan Ramsay, a family physician who said "primary care flows in my veins," said he felt the only way to control costs was to assure every Vermonter had a family physician and a "patient-centered medical home," because that's where good health and screening for diseases and avoiding hospitalization take place. "Primary care first and foremost. That is all that counts," he said. "That has got to be our foundation." He said doctors have faced 10-15 frustrating years of increasing barriers to providing quality care and will welcome a change.
Al Gobeille, the lone businessman on the board, said he came to the panel with a perspective of owning a restaurant business with 230 employees, not as a single-payer advocate. But he said it was clear to him that the current system was not working, noting that the U.S. pays almost twice as much for health care as a developed country like Germany, but has health outcomes far worse.
"We're not winning. We pay more than many other countries and we get less," he said. He had another reason for applying to the board, he said. The complexities of insurance deductibles, copays and the like are gut-wrenching for his employees, and he said "you feel like a jerk as a business owner" for inflicting it on your workers.
So what happens now?
Rader said the board begins work Oct. 1, and "we have a long list of things to tackle."
First on the list is payment reform... she said the key to reform is designing a system that pays to ensure good health of patients instead of a system that pays by volume of patients seen or for the number of medical procedures accomplished...
Payment reform is good. Great. Supercalifragelistic. The less doctors have to worry about billing you for every thermometer and minute, the better caretakers of your health they will be. At least IMHO.
...the next major step after addressing health care costs is a July 2012 target for addressing hospital budgets...
The panel also will have to develop a benefits package for the single-payer plan, and the administration will then have to figure out financing to provide universal coverage for all Vermonters. The Legislature will then weigh in with approval of the financing plan...
The governor also said he believes the state can get a required federal waiver by 2014 when the state hopes to implement the new system.
And there you have it. That's what happens when you have a truly progressive Governor, a legislature willing to work with him, and people dedicated to improving the health of their fellow citizens: A Commission, a Plan, A Canal,
Panama Health Care Reform!
Now let's see what they come up with. We'll be watching with great interest from California and all over the United States (while their Canadian neighbors will be saying "Eh! We did that 30 years ago...").