Vermont is on the fast track to becoming the first state with universal health care with the passage of a single-payer health care bill on Tuesday.
The Vermont Senate approved the bill 21-9 to offer government-funded health insurance to all state residents. The bill will now go to a conference committee, where the House and Senate will hash out the differences in the bill before sending it to Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat.
Shumlin will have to obtain approval from the Obama administration before he could begin to implement the single-payer system, which would begin in 2013. President Obama offered waivers to states to implement their own health care systems if the state's plan covers as many people as the federal overhaul at the same level of coverage, and if it doesn’t add to the federal deficit.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Shumlin said he was confident the state’s plan would be approved.
“What we’re trying to do is have an affordable system that applies to all Vermonters, gives us all quality health care, but spends our dollars on health care and not on insurance company profits,” he said. “I’m convinced if we can create that system, we can get the waivers from Washington, and we will.”
When he ran for governor in 2010, Shumlin promised to bring a publicly financed health care system to the state.