Vt. gov releases details on decision to abandon single-payer health care plan

Gov. Peter Shumlin's administration on Tuesday released documents that led to the decision to abandon plans to make Vermont the first state in the country with a universal, publicly funded health care system.

Calling it the biggest disappointment of his political career, Shumlin announced the decision to drop the proposal on Dec. 17, saying the plan would require tax increases too big for the state to absorb.

He said Tuesday he is determined to work with legislators and state health care regulators to move from a fee-per-service payment system to one that reimburses providers for health outcomes by January 2017.

"I'm convinced that we can be the first state to get that done," Shumlin said.

Doing that will require strengthening the powers of the Green Mountain Care Board, partnering with health care providers to move toward what he called a more sensible system and examining the disparity in health care payments.

"I guess you could argue we're trying to get away from the notion that you pay for a procedure and instead move to system where we pay for keeping Vermonters healthy," he said.

Shumlin and his administration plan to discuss the documents with reporters on Wednesday.

Speaking at his weekly news conference in Montpelier, Shumlin also said he would not be campaigning in the days leading up the special Jan. 8 vote in which the Legislature picks Vermont's next governor.

Shumlin won the popular vote in a close election on Nov. 4, with 46.4 percent to 45.1 percent for Republican Scott Milne. Since neither got a majority, the race goes to the Legislature to decide.

Shumlin said Tuesday he is not worried about the outcome of the vote and believes lawmakers should follow precedent and chose the candidate who received the most votes.

"I deeply believe that the right thing for any candidate to do is to abide by the people's will and those who get the most votes should win and those who don't should concede," he said.

He said he and his administration are working on a budget that will include cuts to address a projected $100 million gap in the next fiscal year.

"There's no that way we can solve this problem without everybody pitching in, everybody helping and everybody expecting to see some pain," he said.