For Immediate Release
Vermont Single-Payer Proposals a ‘Major Step in Right Direction’: Doctors’ Group
WASHINGTON - Longtime reform advocate and Vermont
family physician Dr. Deborah Richter hailed Wednesday’s report of
expert William Hsiao to the Vermont Legislature, particularly
that a single-payer system would be the best remedy for what he
state’s “broken” and “unsustainable” way of paying for care.
“Dr. Hsiao’s team of researchers found that a streamlined,
single-payer system for financing health care would save money by
excess paperwork and bureaucracy, cover everyone in Vermont with no
health spending, reduce or eliminate patient co-pays, promote job
economic development, and control costs,” Richter said.
“Although the devil is in the details, the broad outlines of
his single-payer proposals are very promising,” she said. “They
major step in the right direction.
“This thoughtful, evidence-based approach to solving our
state’s health care problems – an approach that involves our new
congressional delegation and state lawmakers poised to take swift,
action to translate reform proposals into law – stands in stark
contrast to the
noisy goings-on in Washington this week,” Richter said, alluding to
Republican party’s symbolic vote in the House to repeal the federal
While her overall attitude toward Hsiao’s draft report was
very positive, Richter said that her group, the Vermont chapter of
Physicians for a National
Health Program, would be making recommendations to improve the
models to maximize administrative savings and strengthen cost
further. After a period of public comment, a final report from Hsiao
“Only a one-payer system can maximize the efficiencies and
cost savings,” Richter said. “So it will be important to fully
Medicare and Medicaid into the system as soon as possible. We will
recommending the use of single-payer tools like separate operating
budgets for hospitals.”
“Optimally, a single-payer program would also prohibit the
participation of investor-owned, for-profit delivery systems, which
show drive up costs and produce worse medical outcomes,” she said.
Hsiao is a professor of economics at the Harvard School of
Public Health and an internationally recognized authority on health
systems. Last year he and his team were commissioned by the
analyze three models for state health reform, including a
where private insurers are excluded from the system and all medical
paid by a single public or quasi-public authority.
In his presentation to Vermont lawmakers, Hsiao outlined the three
models: a public single-payer plan, a plan that builds on the new
health law but adds a so-called public option, and his team’s
Hsiao’s team found that the “public option” plan would yield
the poorest results, having only a very modest impact on reducing
having almost no impact on reducing the number of the uninsured.
While citing the merits of a publicly administered
single-payer plan, Hsiao’s team ended up by recommending a
hybrid single-payer” model that would be managed by an independent
that would contract-out the job of claims processing to private and
bidders. A private company like Vermont Blue Cross Blue Shield, for
could be hired to process the claims, as is done currently by
Richter likes the idea of the independent board and says
physicians in Vermont
favor single payer because it’s the only approach that gives them a
negotiating power – something they lack with insurers today. Single
also benefit the state’s physicians by simplifying billing and
giving them a
choice of practice options. “It will make primary care very
attractive in Vermont,” she said.
“We’ll be able to choose where we want to practice and patients will
be able to
freely choose their doctors.”
She also would like to see the enactment of a plan that
provides for comprehensive care.
Richter practices family medicine in Montpelier,
and has pushed for single payer in Vermont
for more than two decades. She is a past president of Physicians for
Health Program, a nationwide organization of 18,000 doctors who
single-payer national health insurance, commonly referred to as an
Medicare for all.
“Dr. Hsiao has performed an extraordinary service,” Richter
has an historic opportunity to lead the nation on fundamental health
Physicians for a National Health Program is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 15,000 members and chapters across the United States.