Remember the Patient Deflection and Unaffordable Care Act, rammed through Congress by the Obama administration in its heady, early days? The bureaucratic monstrosity overseen by the Internal Revnue Service that was going to provide “health care” for all Americans at an “affordable” price? Yeah, neither does the New York Times:
Just a few years ago, lawmakers in this left-leaning state viewed President Obama’s Affordable Care Act as little more than a pit stop on the road to a far more ambitious goal: single-payer, universal health care for all residents.
Then things unraveled. The online insurance marketplace that Vermont built to enroll people in private coverage under the law had extensive technical failures. The problems soured public and legislative enthusiasm for sweeping health care changes just as Gov. Peter Shumlin needed to build support for his complex single-payer plan. Finally, Mr. Shumlin, a Democrat, shelved the plan in December, citing the high cost to taxpayers. He called the decision “the greatest disappointment of my political life.”
Priceless: “Things unraveled.” All by themselves and just like that — poof! Who could have seen any of this coming?
As the United States Supreme Court prepares to rule in a case that could gut a major element of the Affordable Care Act — federal subsidies for low- and middle-income people — Vermont should have little to worry about. Only states that use the federally run insurance marketplace stand to lose subsidies if the court rules against the Obama administration, and Vermont is among the 14 states that fully run their own.
But even though its residents’ subsidies appear safe for now, Vermont stands as a cautionary tale. Despite an eventual cost of up to $200 million in federal funds, its online marketplace, or exchange, is still not fully functional, while disgust with the system is running deep among residents and lawmakers alike.
Meanwhile, the hopes for a single-payer system, once tantalizingly close, may be lost for years. Under such a system, the government operates one health insurance plan for all residents, covering their medical costs instead of having private insurers do it.
“It’s just been a spectacular crash, really,” said State Representative Chris Pearson, a member of Vermont’s Progressive Party. “We’ve gone from this vision of being the first state to achieve universal health care, to limping along and struggling to comply with the Affordable Care Act.”
And they won’t learn a damn thing from it, either.