Proposal would phase in Universal Health Care, starting with primary care and mental health

Vermont Business Magazine Representative Brian Cina is introducing a bill to implement publicly financed universal health care starting with primary care and mental health. Over 40 House members have enthusiastically signed on as co-sponsors so far. Senator Chris Bray will introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

According to a statement released by Cina, the health care system is in crisis. Vermonters are struggling with high deductible insurance plans and crushing medical debt. Self-rationing of care and pharmaceuticals is now common. Primary care clinicians are dealing with inadequate reimbursement levels, rising caseloads, and ever-increasing administrative burdens. The mental health care system is stressed to a breaking point. The Accountable Care Organization has burned up enormous financial resources with little to show for it. Hospitals are on shaky financial ground. Workforce shortages lead to wait times for patient visits. This breakdown of our health care infrastructure has been a disaster affecting all of us.

A financially sustainable solution is called for, and a public consensus is building around the idea of revisiting the groundbreaking principles that have lain dormant in Vermont statute since they were enacted in 2011. Principle #1 (18 VSA §9371) states: “The State of Vermont must ensure universal access to and coverage for high quality, medically necessary health services for all Vermonters.”

Other principles in the statute on health care reform speak to cost containment, transparency, efficiency, accountability, and the preservation of primary care. Unfortunately, in recent biennia, the Legislature has not fulfilled all of the principles enacted into law more than 10 years ago and has propped up a system that is laden with costly bureaucracy instead of proven strategies used around the world to reduce administration, save money, and deliver care to all people.

Representative Cina and Senator Bray have asked the House and Senate leadership, the health care committee chairs in both chambers, and policy makers in the executive branch to recognize the urgency around this issue. Both Cina and Bray believe that Vermonters deserve serious discussion on this matter, bold and creative thinking, and ultimately, legislative action to control costs, to redevelop vital health care infrastructure, and to finally make health care universal.

The press and other media are invited to hear more about this proposal and to ask questions at the press/media conference scheduled for Thursday January 26, 2023 in the Cedar Creek Room, on the second floor of the State House.

What: Press/Media Conference; open to the public

Date and Time: Thursday January 26, 2023 at Noon

Location: Cedar Creek Room, 2nd Floor, Vermont Statehouse


Representative Brian Cina, P/D, Burlington

Senator Chris Bray, D, Addison District

Bill Schubart (writer, political commentator)

Mollie Willis (advocate, Rural Vermont)

Liz Schlegel (The Alchemist Foundation)

Dr. Allan Ramsay, MD (former member Green Mountain Care Board)

Liz Medina (Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, invited)