Healthcare News & Insights

States creating their own single-payer systems while feds fight out reform details

While the feds continue to figure out how to interpret the health care reform law they’ve already passed, some states are taking the matter into their own hands. Last month, Vermont became the first state to pass a law establishing a single-payer health care system. Of course, even after passing, no one should expect changes to happen overnight.Vermont’s plan, called Green Mountain Care, won’t be up and running for some time. The law requires a five-member board to present different options for actually paying for the plan to the state legislature by Jan. 15, 2013. At that point, the legislators will have to weigh the pros, cons and political environment before selecting a plan — which is not likely to be a quick decision.

Slow or not, Vermont’s law is ground-breaking and could serve as a model for other states. Green Mountain Care would make all residents of the state eligible to enroll in the plan, while allowing private insurers to continue to operate in the state.

Other states are weighing similar options — but making varied amounts of headway. California, for example, just reintroduced a bill that’s been passed twice before but vetoed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Under current Governor Jerry Brown, the bill is likely to receive a much friendlier welcome.

Illinois, Pennsylvania and Minnesota have also gotten single-payer-style bills through key committees, but none have yet passed the entire legislature.

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