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Friday, May 27, 2011

Green Mountain Care

Rachel Bates

Staff Writer

Exciting things are happening in Vermont!

Yesterday, Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into law that establishes Green Mountain Care and makes Vermont the only state on a path towards universal coverage for all its residents.

Green Mountain Care clearly demonstrates the promise of the Affordable Care Act: Not only did the law establish vital consumer protections but it also gives states the flexibility to take their own approach toward improving health coverage, health costs, and quality of care. Vermont's landmark legislation helps ensure that every Vermonter has access to quality affordable health coverage, and it is designed in a way that meets the needs of the 622,000 people who call Vermont home.

How did the Affordable Care Act help make this possible? Cass Gekas, Health Care Advocate at Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), said the health care law has provided a sound infrastructure and new resources to help Vermont lay the groundwork for its new publicly financed universal system. Tax credits for businesses, premium subsidies, and state oversight and regulation - all critical elements of our health care law—help make Vermont's vision for a publicly financed universal system achievable.

And for Vermonters, this historic program comes at a critical time.

In Vermont, health care costs are growing at a rate that is 12 times faster than the state economy. This is simply unsustainable. There was no choice but to improve the current fragmented system, and Cass and her colleagues at VPIRG are pleased that the new legislation will move the state toward a fairer health care system that is transparent and accountable.

Now, because Vermont's new legislation will bring more transparency, it will be easier for health care consumers to understand what they are paying for and where the money is going. The new system will save much-needed money in the long term and provide more affordable coverage for all Vermonters. And the passage of the bill had another positive effect - it has brought national attention back to the issue of health care reform, reigniting the energy of the movement.

Vermont has truly become a leader in health care reform. It will be exciting to watch as the state progresses and moves closer toward universal health coverage. Hopefully other states will follow Vermont's lead and bring us closer to achieving universal health care for all Americans. These are exciting times, and there is much to learn from Vermont!