By Mark Johnson | VTDigger.org
Advocates for health care reform demanded Thursday that Gov. Phil Scott denounce the Republican health care plan being debated in Congress.
They said the proposal would result in thousands of Vermonters losing insurance coverage and cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.
Lawmakers in Washington are considering the GOP-led plan as part of action to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act signed into law seven years ago by then-President Barack Obama. The Republican plan would dismantle many parts of the ACA.
At a Statehouse rally, speakers decried the proposed cutbacks and insisted the Republican governor “stand up” and speak out strongly against the GOP plan, which could cost Vermont $200 million a year in Medicaid funding. Under the plan, many less-well-off Americans would see their insurance costs increase, while many wealthy would pay less than today.
“This isn’t a health care bill,” said Brenda Patoine, an event organizer. “In fact, it would be more properly called a wealth care bill.”
At an afternoon news conference, Scott said he has been clear in denouncing the Republican plan.
The plan “as written would be devastating for Vermont. It would cost us hundreds of millions of dollars. Thousands would be without insurance,” Scott said.
The governor said he had spoken directly to the White House about his concerns, as well as other governors “that might find themselves in the same situation we are in,” including ones in states with a similar expansion of Medicaid that Vermont had under Obamacare.
“We’re all concerned about what’s happening in Washington,” Scott said, adding that a special session of the Legislature might be needed if big cuts are made. He would not say if large cuts might make him rethink his pledge not to raise taxes; instead he encouraged Vermont lawmakers to pass a budget without any tax increases.
“We can only address what we know at this point,” he said.
At the rally — organized by the advocacy group Rights and Democracy — family physician Dr. Allan Ramsay said losing insurance could lead to premature deaths as well as the postponement of early and preventive care.