May I have the envelope, please? And now - the dumbest bill of the year is ... S.88. Let's give a big hand to its author, Sen. Doug Racine. What's S.88?
S.88 is Sen. Racine's bill to create a government run single payer health care system for Vermont.
But we don't have $2 billion dollars to make that thing work.
That's true. So Sen. Racine set aside his original bill and produced a new one, that directs the Health Care Reform Commission the Democrats created four years ago to do a big new study to develop three different varieties of socialized medicine that next year's legislature can choose from. The senator asked for $400,000 to pay for it.
Isn't the state facing a $154 million budget deficit this coming year, and almost $700 million more over the following three years? Hundreds of state positions have gone unfilled. Obamacare will saddle our taxpayers with at least $6.8 million in new state spending in the next fiscal year.
We don't know how we are going to pay for the state mental hospital. The two state-managed retirement funds have an unfunded liability of $1,053 million, plus $879 million more in unfunded post employment benefits. So Sen. Racine wants us to spend $400,000 to study socialized medicine?
The Senate Appropriations committee, taking note of these financial problems, agreed to spend only $250,000 on this study. But that's Sen. Racine's plan.
But haven't we studied government run health care plans before?
Of course. In 1992 the legislature, urged on by Sen. Racine, snatched $900,000 from an insurance reserve fund and gave it to a new Health Care Authority. Its main task was to develop a single payer plan and something called a regulated multiplayer plan, by the end of 1993.
So what happened?
The Authority produced its two plans. Sen. Racine denounced the single payer version as worthless. Gov. Dean denounced the multipayer plan as worthless. A year's work of study was wasted. A couple of years later the Authority was mercifully abolished.