Plan Shows Way to Finance Universal Health Care

Anja Rudiger, of the the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, discusses new legislation and a report on public financing of Green Mountain Care that make the case for Vermont to establish what would be the first universal, publicly financed health care system in the United States. The financing plan sets out an equitable model for financing Vermont’s health care system that would expand access to care while lowering health care costs for low and middle-income families. For example, a family with an income of $50,000 would pay an average of $2,500 less in healthcare costs than without universal healthcare. The plan, which was published by the Vermont Workers’ Center and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, provides data and models showing that Vermont could simultaneously guarantee health care access to all its residents, reign in the overall cost of health care, and finance the new health care system through progressive taxation. Universal health care isn’t about finding new money, it’s about sharing existing payments more equitably. Residents and employers in Vermont already pay over $5 billion a year for health care, with much of the burden falling on low and middle-income families. This plan shows that it’s not only realistic to capture that spending through equitable taxation, but that Vermont would save a lot of money if health care payments didn’t mainly flow to private insurance companies.
The financing plan is bolstered by an open letter from over 100 economists that calls universal, publicly financed health care “not only economically feasible but highly preferable to a fragmented market-based insurance system,” and calls on Vermont lawmakers to “move forward with implementing a public financing plan for the universal health care system envisioned by state law.” The report and the economists’ letter make the case that the economics behind universal, publicly financed health care are sound.