August 3, 2015

PROGRESSIVES CAN'T EVEN GOVERN A HOMOGENOUS POPULATION WELL:

How Single-Payer Health Care Failed in Progressive Paradise (GEOFFREY NORMAN, July 31, 2015, WSJ)

What killed single-payer was a combination of sticker shock and political expediency. When Gov. Shumlin ran for a third term in 2014, Republicans nominated a virtually unknown challenger named Scott Milne. Yet the governor beat his GOP opponent by little more than one percentage point, and won only 46.6% of the electorate. The Vermont Constitution provides that if no gubernatorial candidate wins a majority of votes, the election is settled by the legislature, scheduled to meet in January 2015.

The ultimate result was never in doubt, since Democrats control the statehouse. But Mr. Shumlin recognized that something had to give. Before the drama could unfold, the governor called a December press conference to announce that, after four years of study costing slightly more than $2 million, single payer was dead. "The bottom line," he said, "is that, as we completed the financing modeling in the last several days, it became clear that the risk of economic shock is too high at this time to offer a plan I can responsibly support."

Where the governor had once estimated such a system might cost $2 billion annually, calculations now suggested $2.59 billion, rising to $3.17 billion in five years. Paying for it would require an 11.5% payroll tax and a sliding-scale income tax with a top rate of 9.5%. Even then, the system would run in the red by 2020.

The legislature, operating in a vacuum left by the collapse of single payer, had to contend with a deficit of more than $100 million--which happens when lawmakers increase spending by 5% annually during a recession. One of its solutions was a tax on "sugary drinks," which went into effect July 1. It is fiendishly complicated: nonalcoholic drinks with either natural or artificial sweeteners are taxed, while those containing milk or soy are not. Shoppers who buy their soft drinks with food stamps do not pay the tax.

Property taxes continue to rise as the state grapples with an education system that spends, per pupil, 80% more than the national average, according to one estimate. The results are not noticeably better than in similar jurisdictions, meaning ones that do not have to deal with the challenges of inner-city schools.

On the other hand, our HSA at work is excellent.
Posted by at August 3, 2015 4:40 PM
  

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