Published on
the Burlington Free Press

Vermont Gov. Shumlin Signs Health Care Reform Bill

Nancy Remsen

Optimistic that the rain would hold off and Vermont’s health reform bill would make history, Gov. Peter Shumlin stood on the steps outside the Statehouse Thursday and signed a law that puts Vermont on the road toward a universal health care system.

Vermont Single-Payer Health Care Rally

“We gather here today to sign into law the first single-payer system in America,” Shumlin said.

The new law doesn’t make the jump to a government-financed system soon — it could be five years before such a change could take place. Instead it sets in motion dozens of studies intended to inform decision-makers that include the Legislature and a new regulatory board that will be formed later this year.

Supporters, many wearing the red shirts of “health care is a human right” campaign organized by the Vermont Workers Center, arrived early to share observations and information via a national video link with interested groups across the country.

“Today, Vermont is showing the way,” Mari Cordes, president of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, told the online audience. Speaking after her presentation, Cordes said, “We are very excited about this and we agree we have a lot more work to do.”

Patricia McDonald, chairwoman of the Vermont Republican party, came to the gathering to hear the governor’s message.

“I haven’t heard anything that would change my mind, if anything we would be just as strong in our concern about the details. ... I’m going to work to try to find alternatives to bring other options forward. We don’t want to just say no.”

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