Health Reform Cost: Advocates Suggest New Version for Christmas Gifts 2010

Vermont Ponders Health Reform Cost. Do we need Health Reform? What if the health reform cost? Advocates of federal health care reform are predicting that the Senate will pass its version in time for Christmas, although without the public option. The next step would be to reconcile the Senate bill with the House version, which includes a public option. Just this weekend, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy scored a major influx of money for the state under Medicaid. Still, there are many unanswered questions and a lot at stake for states that have enacted their own health care reform.

Vermont is far ahead of the federal government on health care, having enacted significant reform since the 1990s. While Congress wrestles with health care reform, the question arises, what will be the impact on states that already have expanded health access. Leahy and the rest of Vermont’s congressional delegation are watching closely.

Former Gov. Howard Dean told Channel 3, “They’re really keeping a close guard because there is a threat to Vermont.”

At least partly alleviating the impact, Leahy this weekend won a $250 million increase in Medicaid payments to Vermont over six years as part of the Senate’s health care bill. Dean, a central figure in the national debate, says the danger is that Vermont could be hit with long-term financial penalties because of its expanded subsidized coverage, as opposed to states that have done nothing. “You know, our reforms that we put in when I was governor fifteen years ago are much better than what’s in the Senate bill in terms of insurance reforms,” he said.

Vermont’s director of health care reform, Susan Besio, agrees that there is a threat. When asked why Vermont and other states that have gone ahead on their own for health reform seem to get hurt, she said, “Because there’s only so much money available to support states and the emphasis is on having everyone in the country as much as possible, have health insurance. And so at this federal level they’re really providing money to states that haven’t already provided those funds to expand coverage.”

Therefore, Vermont, which expanded health care subsidies on its own, worries that any additional growth prompted by federal health care reform might become a liability for state taxpayers. Editing by Alice Zhang

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