Health Care Bill Passes Vermont House

S.88, Vermont’s main health care bill, passed the House on April 23, 2010 by a vote of 91-42. The bill, which is critical to Vermont’s health care reform efforts, passed the Senate on April 8th.  It marks and important step forward in our goal of ensuring that all Vermonters have access to high-quality, affordable health care.  The bill will now return to the Senate for further deliberation during the final weeks of the legislative session.
There is a lot to the bill, but we want to share with you three key reasons why VPIRG is supporting it.
(1) It allows Vermonters to be part of the process of choosing our health care system by designing three options that would each ensure universal access to quality health care.  The three designs will be completed by early in the next legislative session so that action can be taken next year. A single payer plan and a public option are among the designs included in the House bill.
(2) It improves the coordination of services for Vermonters with chronic health conditions by expanding the state’s Blueprint for Health and Community Health Systems pilot program. This program uses care teams and payments innovations to help primary-care doctors deliver more preventative medicine and better manage chronic conditions.
(3) It institutes cost control measures which should help keep hospital costs from rising so quickly across the state.
(4) It provides for greater transparency in the distribution of pharmaceutical samples to medical practices across the state.  While the bill does not limit or regulate the distribution of drug samples to physicians, it does help us keep a closer eye on how the marketing of high priced, brand-name drugs may impact rising health care costs. 
The best part of all is that this bill won’t add anything to Vermont’s deficit, which is welcome news during this challenging budget year.
In this tough economic climate, we know many Vermonters are suffering the impact of financial hardship. The sleepless nights that accompany the fear of unpaid bills, strapped budgets and empty wallets take a significant toll and the well being of hard-working Vermonters and their families. Access to affordable health services should not contribute to these worries.  S.88 will help address these concerns and ensure that Vermont will once again lead the nation by making one of the most progressive health care systems in the country, even better.