Gov. Peter Shumlin and legislative leaders today announced the inclusion of a "bronze plan" and a proposal to allow businesses with more than 50 employers to remain outside the Exchange until 2016. The Governor, Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell and House Speaker Shap Smith made the announcement today.
"Vermont is creating the first single payer plan in America that will make health care a right and not a privilege, contain costs and make Vermont the affordable health care state," Gov. Shumlin said. "Our goal is to have as much choice in the exchange as federal law allows, allowing Vermont employers to shop for health care there."
"Some Vermont small businesses are offering plans that may not meet the gold and silver plan standards but provide coverage for their employers," he added. "We want the exchange to offer the same flexibility while we continue to design a single payer system that brings our skyrocketing health care costs under control. Our goal is to build an exchange that offers consumers maximum flexibility as allowed under federal law."
The Governor said moving forward quickly on the reform plan is imperative, and ensuring businesses are comfortable with the plan is important.
"There is broad consensus that the current health care system we have is broken," said Speaker Smith. "The health benefits exchange is a small step forward in curbing costs and increasing coverage. It makes sense to phase in these key changes, giving businesses and individuals additional choice and predictability within the exchange."
The Legislature established a Vermont Exchange last year to reorganize how people purchase private health insurance in the current market. It should allow for easier, one-stop consumer shopping compared to the frustrating jumble of choices people now experience. The Governor's ultimate goal is to move beyond private insurance schemes and implement publicly-financed coverage for all Vermonters.