January 13, 2013; Andrew Stein; VTDigger
Vermonters between 250 percent and 300 percent of the federal poverty line, or individuals earning $28,000 to $33,500 annually, are facing a doubling of out-of-pocket costs comprised of premiums and annual spending maximums. These cost hikes would hit one of Vermont’s most vulnerable economic populations just three years before Gov. Peter Shumlin and many legislators hope to transition Vermont to a publicly financed, universal health care system.
The problem with providing those populations with current levels of subsidized coverage, the governor previously said, is that it could cost Vermont upwards of $18 million annually. Shumlin said the state doesn’t have that money simply lying around, especially since Vermonters earning 100 percent to 133 percent of the federal poverty line are moving into Medicaid in 2014, which will require more state investment.
On Thursday, Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, questioned whether the state could afford not to subsidize low-income populations, if the Shumlin administration still wishes to implement a single-payer system in the near future.
“I don’t think we can have … an erosion of confidence in the existing public programs and expect that we can then grow to have a uniquely ambitious public health program for the country,” he said.
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