Government/Health

Column: Bernie Sanders’ ‘single-payer’ healthcare plan failed in his own state of Vermont

One of leading 2020 Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders’ main proposals is creating a “Medicare-for-all” healthcare system that ends private and employer-provided coverage, but it’s a scheme his own liberal state of Vermont couldn’t even pull off.

Writing in the Washington Examiner Thursday, columnist Kaylee McGhee noted that just a few years ago, a plan by Vermont Democrats to bring a single-payer plan similar to a Medicare for All scheme was determined to be far too costly for the state government to afford.




“Vermont was supposed to pave the way for a single-payer healthcare system. The Democratic-controlled state legislature drafted the bill in 2014, and Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin was ready to sign it into law. But then Shumlin realized he had a problem: He couldn’t pay for it,” she wrote.

The plan, circa 2014, called for an 11.5 percent payroll tax on businesses and a sliding premiums on 9.5 percent of peoples’ incomes, but Shumlin realized that the amount of money needed for the plan “might hurt our economy.”

“These are simply not tax rates that I can responsibly support or urge the Legislature to pass,” the governor said at the time. “In my judgment, the potential economic disruption and risks would be too great to small businesses, working families, and the state’s economy.”

The Urban Institute estimated recently that at current rates, Americans are in pace to spend $52 trillion on healthcare over the next decade.

One of Sanders’ options to pay for it is raising taxes on virtually all earners, including a 4-percent payroll tax on anyone earning more than $29,000 a year, NPR reported.



“At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people will save money on their health care bills. But I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up,” Sanders said during a Democratic presidential debate in October.

“They’re going to go up significantly for the wealthy. And for virtually everybody, the tax increase they pay will be substantially less — substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses,” he added.

McGhee noted that Vermont’s experience with trying to find a way to pay for a universal government healthcare plan is a “red flag.”

“If an individual state was unable to implement a single-payer system, why should we believe the federal government will be able to? she wrote.


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