Governor Peter Shumlin says he hopes Congress will amend the Affordable Care Act to allow individual states to implement a single payer health care system as soon as possible.
Shumlin says controlling health care costs is critical to creating new jobs and he’s convinced that a single payer plan is the best way to achieve this goal.
Shumlin made his comments at a health care panel at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
He said adopting a single payer plan would give all Vermonters access to health care and take the burden of providing health insurance off the backs of small businesses.
The Affordable Care Act creates consumer exchanges in every state beginning in January of 2014 and Vermont is the only state in the country to require all small businesses and individuals to buy their insurance through the exchange.
Shumlin says the federal law includes subsidies for people who make less than $47,000 a year and that’s why he’s encouraging small Vermont businesses to drop their health care coverage so their employees can purchase their insurance through the exchange.
"The Affordable Care Act will encourage small employers like me, business people like me to say we’re going to help you go to the exchange subsidize, raise your wages so you can go directly to the exchange to buy your insurance," said Shumlin. "We are decoupling health care from employment which is incredibly important to job growth."
Shumlin says health care is an issue where individual states should be allowed to adopt their own approach to provide universal access.
"Real health care reform in America is going to come from the small states that are less beholden to corporations and special interests that want to keep the system just the way it is because the insurance companies and the special interests are making so much money off this deal they want to keep it."
Under the Affordable Care Act, states can’t implement a single payer system before 2017. Shumlin wants this provision removed from the law.
"Because this Vermont boy wants to implement that health care, the single payer health care system tomorrow and I don’t know why you guys want to stop me from doing that," said Shumlin. "It is the right thing to do, the rest of the world has figured it out, let’s grow up and join them and get on with the journey."
Health care is a key issue in the 2012 governor’s race. Republican Randy Brock is expected to unveil his plan in the next week and it’s one that will likely call for greater competition in the private health insurance market.