Bernie Sanders home state of Vermont failed at its own single-payer health care attempt. The Green Mountain State abandoned the effort after it failed to come up with a way to make the system work.
In the Washington Post, Amy Goldstein notes that if there were any state offering ideal terrain to create a single-payer version of universal health care, it was Vermont.
It has some of the nation’s healthiest residents, with some of the lowest rates of uninsured. It is small and homogeneous. It shares a border with Canada, putting an existing single-payer system within sight. And it has just one main insurer, the nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, repeatedly ranked the most efficient Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in the nation.
When asked by NH Public Radio’s Casey McDermott for lessons Sanders learned from Vermont’s failure and how he would avoid running into the same challenges if single payer were rolled out nationally, Sanders blamed it on the Vermont’s governor.
“If Vermont had a better governor at the time, it might have been different,’ said Sen. Sanders before immediately changing the subject.
He then went on to tout endorsements for his national plan, but didn’t say another word about Vermont as he criticized the profits of drug and insurance companies.
Vermont’s failure was not caused from lack of trying or from poor governor leadership, continues Ms. Goldstein;
Three and a half years after then-Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont signed into law a vision for the nation’s first single-payer health system, his small team was still struggling to find a way to pay for it. With a deadline bearing down, they worked through a frozen, mid-December weekend, trying one computer model Friday night, another Saturday night, yet another Sunday morning.
If they kept going, the governor asked his exhausted team on Monday, could they arrive at a tax plan that would be politically palatable?
No, they told him. They could not.
When asked again by Ms. McDermott to analyze the failure in his home state, Sen. Sanders replied, “Look, Vermont is a small state and it’s going to take tough leadership to move forward.”
Then he changed the subject again to discuss the century-long quest for national health care in the U.S. from Teddy Roosevelt to the present day.
Bernie Avoiding Vermont’s Crushing Single-Payer Failure
Sen. Sanders declined to be interviewed for that Post story, reports the WSJ. According to Ms. Goldstein, Sen. Sanders seems to have been working hard to avoid the topic since 2014:
The day Shumlin announced that Green Mountain Care was dead, Vermont’s junior senator, Sanders, was in Iowa, testing liberals’ receptivity as he considered a first run for president. The day before, he had talked up single-payer in two appearances, news accounts show.
But that day, he did not mention its demise in his state, according to the accounts and people interviewed for this report.
Read more here.