Daily Archives: January 7, 2015

Here’s someone who doesn’t think Scott Milne will win

And it’s a guy who might well be sympathetic to Milne’s quest:

That’s Tom Torti, longtime President of the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce. And the breakfast comes four days after the legislature chooses the next governor.

I suppose it’s theoretically possible that this is a farewell event, but given the billing as a Legislative Breakfast, I’m safe in assuming otherwise.

Sorry, Governor Milne. Guess your invite got lost in the mail.

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Good grief, Bill Doyle.

Crusty Statehouse institution Bill Doyle, Republican Senator from Washington County and close personal friend of Ethan Allen, has executed a downright elegant political pirouette. Well, it’d be elegant if it wasn’t intellectually dishonest.

Doyle told Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck that he’d changed his mind on the gubernatorial election. He was going to go with the top vote-getter, Gov. Shumlin, but he’s now changed his mind: he’s voting with his constituency. Washington County gave Scott Milne a substantial majority. (Of course, Milne owns a substantial business based in Barre, so he’s kind of a favorite son, but whatever.)

That’s not the pirouette part, however.

Doyle is also the author of a Constitutional amendment that would lower the threshold for election from the current 50% plus one to 40%. And this isn’t a new idea for Doyle; he first proposed this in 1974.

Put it another way: he has advocated for this change for 41 years. But when push came to shove in real life, he’s going the other way.

In the words of Mr. Spock: Fascinating. But highly illogical.

Big ol’ lead airliner

There’s an absolutely devastating piece on VTDigger this morning. If you haven’t read it, go. Now.

For those who didn’t immediately take my advice, the story outlines the role Governor Shumlin played in holding a pillow over single payer health care’s face until it stopped breathing. Or, as the headline says, “Shumlin built ‘lead airplane’ for single payer.”

If the story is true, here’s basically what happened. At some point, the governor decided that he couldn’t win on single payer. Then, rather than face the music directly, he larded his single payer proposal with assumptions that added to its cost and suppressed its revenues. As the story says, “he cast the program in the most negative light possible.”

And then he walked away.

How did he do it?

Well, first of all, he presented only one plan, when he’d promised a menu of options.

Aside from that, his plan offered top-shelf coverage, paying for 94% of clients’ health care costs — a 94 Actuarial Value. He could have gone with a lower figure; “Act 48, Vermont’s single payer law, directed the administration to shoot for a plan that covered 87 percent of costs.”

So he ignored the law. Not much new there.

The 94 AV added $300 million a year to single payer’s cost.

He also chose to add out-of-state residents who work in Vermont, which added another $200 million. And he called for the elimination of Vermont’s provider tax, which cut $160 million in revenue.

He also chose to assume the new system would yield no administrative savings — which had been one of his big selling points for single payer.

You can see where this is going. Shumlin projected a first-year cost of $2.6 billion, but he could have brought in a perfectly acceptable plan for well under $2 billion.

And he knew it. And he chose not to tell us.

The massive report released by the administration at year’s end included not one, but 15 plans. But Shumlin chose to present only one.

Among the 15 different models in the document dump is Financing Concept 12, which uses an 87 percent actuarial value and would require $1.6 billion in state revenue for the first year.

It excludes out-of-state workers and does not offer supplemental coverage to federal employees or people with employer sponsored coverage, all of which is contained in the plan Shumlin chose.

It’s hard to read that and feel anything other than betrayal.

Maybe there were perfectly sound reasons for Shumlin’s choices, but he didn’t give them and he didn’t provide any options. Instead, he “buried” them in his pre-holiday document dump.

So, Vermont misses a chance at single payer. Even worse, the entire idea of single payer has been significantly set back, perhaps by decades. Because now we have a liberal governor, a strong advocate of single payer, concluding that it’s not practical.

This hurts.