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Shumlin's single-payer health plan under fire

Emergency!Gov. Peter Shumlin's (D)single-payer health-care plans may need to be rushed to the E.R.-stat. Vermont's largest employers are displeased with the governor's plans and they're turning their thumbs down on the Euro-style, socialist approach to health care here in the Green Mountain State.

Shumlin wants companies to be forced, by law, to be a part of a costly single-payer system plan.

Most notably, officials of the state's larger businesses-Home Depot, IBM, and Wal-mart-are on record claiming that forcing currently self-insured companies into a taxpayer financed health-care system is a bad idea-a bad idea.

"If states do their own programs, it will create inequity among employers and add significant new costs," said John O'Kane, an IBM official.

Currently, IBMis exempted from from state insurance regulations under the U.S. Employment Retirement Income Security Act because it is a self-insured company.

O'Kane also said, "ERISA must be maintained so employers like IBM can deliver value while keeping costs down. Any reform path must support the ERISA framework, which is essential for multi-state employers."

Harvard economist Dr. William Hsiao, who supports U.K.- and Canadian-style approaches to health care, such as the byzantine, constitutionally challenged Obama Care national program, recommended that Vermont enforce a broad-based payroll tax. This would provide funding for a state universal benefits package without forcing ERISA companies to participate in the system.

O'Kane said Hsiao's plan was simply unacceptable.

Vermont Retail Association Executive Director Tasha Wallis said, "Dr. Hsiao's report envisions a system where all employers participate in a single payer system by paying a payroll tax to support such a system. The Vermont Retail Association wants to be clear that it does not support assessing a payroll tax on self-funded multi-state employers."

Vermont State Rep. Mark Larson (D), chairman of the House Committee on Health Care went on the defensive last week. He said, "How many people are covered, what are the benefits they can access and what are the costs of those benefits?" How are self-insured plans factored in? We do however have the authority to tax."

Vermont would be unable to establish a single-payer system until 2014 since there is no funding for it currently.

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