Collective Bargaining Becomes Issue In Health Debate

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A new question is cropping up as the debate over health care reform in Vermont unfolds against the backdrop of moves in other states to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.

If Vermont adopts single payer health care system, will that reduce the ability of unionized public-sector workers to negotiate over health benefits as part of collective bargaining?

Current Vermont law says health coverage is a subject of collective bargaining. Rep. Paul Poirier of Barre says that’s likely to change under a single-payer health care system that would make health coverage a function of citizenship rather than employment.

But Dr. Deb Richter, a single-payer advocate, says even with basic benefits provided by the system, workers could still negotiate for additional coverage not included in the basic plan.

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