A report by William C. Hsiao, an economist at the Harvard School of Public Health who consulted for the Vermont Legislature, estimates it would create 3,800 jobs, result in annual savings of 25.3 percent, cut employer and household spending by $200 million, and boost the state's overall economic output by $100 million.
That’s little consolation to a growing number of skeptics like Jeff Wennberg, a former Republican mayor and state environmental commissioner who now runs a nonprofit group called Vermonters for Health Care Freedom. Mr. Wennberg argues that lawmakers have rushed through the legislation without considering the potential fallout, or even how to finance it.
“It’s a stem-to-stern, top-to-bottom takeover of the insurance market. They’re blowing up the entire system,” he says. “You want to set up a practice? The Green Mountain Care Board will control it, will control all compensation, whether you can work in town A or town B, the number of procedures you will be allowed to perform. It’s crazy.”
Many critics insist single-payer systems end up rationing care, letting government officials make medical decisions rather than doctors. They argue that Vermont’s existing shortage of physicians will be only worsened as payments to doctors are capped, and as the state’s aging population gets even older and needs even more care.
“We’ve married ourselves to the single-payer model without looking at other models that might be doing the same thing,” says Rutland dermatologist Dan McCauliffe, an outspoken critic. “There’s better ways of getting universal access. Universal access does not have to follow from single-payer.”