House OKs health care bill with local support

MIDDLEBURY — Addison County’s House delegation on Thursday voted along party lines on ground-breaking health care reform legislation that will now move on to the state Senate.
The Vermont House voted 92-49 in favor of H.202, legislation that establishes a road map for a single-payer health care system for the state.
Voting in favor of the legislation — after many hours of debate that ran past midnight the previous night — were Democrat Reps. Mike Fisher of Lincoln, Willem Jewett of Ripton, Diane Lanpher of Vergennes, Betty Nuovo of Middlebury, Paul Ralston of Middlebury and Dave Sharpe of Bristol.
Voting against the bill were Republican Reps. Greg Clark of Vergennes and Harvey Smith of New Haven, along with Rep. Will Stevens, I-Shoreham.
H.202 would, among other things, establish a board to “ensure cost-containment in health care, create system-wide budgets, and to pursue payment reform; a “health benefit exchange” for Vermont as required under federal health care reform laws; create a public–private single-payer health care system to provide coverage for all Vermonters after receipt of federal waivers; create a consumer and health care professional advisory board; examine reforms to Vermont’s medical malpractice system; and modify the insurance rate review process; and create a statewide drug formulary.
Supporters were pleased with the margin by which the bill passed the House.
“This is really an important step in moving us to a much more sane way of health care financing,” said Fisher, vice chairman of the House Health Care Committee. “I was pleased and proud to be a part of it.”
Fisher said H.202 moves the state “to a place where all Vermonters will have quality care and stops us from the current practices where we shift the costs from one payer to another.”
The bill will now land in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, chaired by Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Weybridge.
“We are ready to start taking testimony,” Ayer said, something that will occur during the next three weeks.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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