“I’ve been trying to figure out why businesses aren’t insisting on single payer healthcare,” my old friend Enola “Fanny” Guay said, “and I realized it’s because we’re all in this great shift into being corporate serfs.”
Although I’ve known Ms. Guay for nearly 50 years and know how proud she is of her experiential learning, I also know she can be a bit blinded by her ideology. She’s a second generation member of Helen and Scott Nearings back-to-the-land movement in Vermont. The Nearings bought an old farm house and built a simple, self-sufficient lifestyle here, far from big government and rampant consumerism. Their descendants are now the power brokers and consumers of Montpeculiar.
Fanny Guay really really really believes in single payer. “All Americans have a constitutional if not a moral right to health care,” she says, “and a single payer plan would cover everyone by default for doctors, hospital, preventive and long-term care, mental health, reproductive, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs.”
Be nice if we knew how to pay for that.
“We won’t need as much money under single payer,” Ms. Guay said. “With all the patients under the single system, the payer has clout. The VA, for instance, gets a 40% discount on drugs because of its buying power. This monopsony explains why drug prices in other countries are lower than here. That’s how Medicare forces hospital and doctor costs down as well.”
Be nice if we knew how to pay for that.
“See, there is already plenty of money in the system now to pay for it because we already pay for health care.”
Erm, no. Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton’s analysis shows that there is no pot of gold in taxpayer pockets.
She looked at all current state revenues. The property tax, already earmarked for education, is maxed out. Vermont is number four in the nation in property taxes, and just .05% behind number three Connecticut. (The property tax raises 42% of the state revenues.) General sales taxes plus the tariff on gas and booze runs a close second, raising 30% of revenues. State income tax, no longer coupled to federal, is likewise maxed out.
Vermont may grow rocks but there’s no more blood in the stones.
In fact, CNN ranked Vermont number one, numero uno, primo supremo, in the tax wars with a total state and local tax burden of 14.1% of per capita income. That’s far more than New York (13.8%), New Jersey (11.6), or California (11.5) or even Florida (10%).
“That does seem high, but we are a small state and we have a great quality of life.”
Can’t hide from the facts. Vermont will need another payroll tax.
“But we don’t need new taxes!” Ms. Guay said. “We just need to tap the insurance premiums we’re already paying.”
Ms. Wilton found that the state will need a new 14.5% payroll tax but is still going to run $300 million yearly budget deficits even with that new tax. She believes the Shumlin Administration is over-estimating the cost savings a single-payer system can deliver.
She also believe the Shumlin Administration is playing hide the walnut with how much they will have to raise taxes this year, next year, and the year after that, and so on ad infinitum.
The new Vermont legislative session begins Thursday. Guess what’s first on the agenda.
Ms. Guay wondered “why businesses aren’t insisting on single payer healthcare.” Pretty simple, really.
- Gov. Shumlin’s plan will drive the couple of remaining insurance companies out of business here.
- Gov. Shumlin’s plan will make it illegal not to provide health insurance to all employees.
- Gov. Shumlin’s plan will double the size of government (which doubles the size of taxes) overnight.
- Gov. Shumlin’s plan will drive the couple of remaining Vermont employers out of business here because a business can’t do business if they can’t predict how much their taxes will go up every year.
And no business wants to be legislated into being sort of a serf to the state.
Be nice if we knew how to pay for all that.