Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin on Wednesday dropped his plan to enact a single-payer health care system in his state — a plan that had won praise from liberals but never really got much past the framework stage.
“This is not the right time” for enacting single payer, Shumlin said in a statement, citing the big tax increases that would be required to pay for it.
Shumlin faced deep skepticism that lawmakers could agree on a way to pay for his ambitious goal and that the feds would agree to everything he needed to create the first state-based single-payer system in 2017.
And that was all before Shumlin, a Democrat, almost lost reelection last month in one of the country’s most liberal states. And it was before MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, the now notorious Obamacare consultant who also advised Vermont until his $400,000 contract was killed amid the controversy, became political poison.
Shumlin had missed two earlier financing deadlines but finally released his proposal. But he immediately cast it as “detrimental to Vermonters.” The model called for businesses to take on a double-digit payroll tax, while individuals would face up to a 9.5 percent premium assessment. Big businesses, in particular, didn’t want to pay for Shumlin’s plan while maintaining their own employee health plans.
“These are simply not tax rates that I can responsibly support or urge the Legislature to pass,” the governor said. “In my judgment, the potential economic disruption and risks would be too great to small businesses, working families and the state’s economy.”