Douglas says he’ll work with Democrats on health care

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says one of his top legislative priorities is to make health care more accessible and more affordable in Vermont. The governor says he’ll reach out to the new Democratic majority in the Vermont House to tackle this issue and others that face the next Legislature.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Governor Douglas says he’ll push a health care plan he advocated during the campaign. He’d like to get more insurance companies in Vermont, and he’s proposed subsidies to help people buy coverage. The governor wants the upcoming legislature to address the issue.

(Douglas) “I sense that Vermonters feel a sense of urgency on this. As I talk to employers, and families and employees, many talk about the high cost of care, and its accessibility. I don’t want to see this linger on for another year. I want to begin the discussion with legislative leaders now.”

(Dillon) Douglas was swept back into office this week with almost 60 percent of the vote. But voters also overturned the make-up of the Vermont House. More than a dozen Republicans were defeated, handing control back to the Democrats.

Douglas says Vermonters clearly wanted a divided government. He says he’ll meet soon with Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.

(Douglas) “I really believe that the people of Vermont expect us to work together. They elected me. They’ve elected Democrats to control the majorities in the General Assembly. I don’t believe the voters expect gridlock. I expect that they want progress. They’re entitled to it. They’re entitled to public officials working together cooperatively. And although we may have different points of view on these issues, I think our task is to find common ground and make as much progress as we can.”

(Dillon) The governor says that the Democratic House candidates simply did a better job in their campaigns.

(Douglas) “I certainly give credit where it’s due. I think the Democratic candidates out-organized and out-campaigned the Republican candidates and that’s certainly evidenced by the outcome of this election.”

(Dillon) Douglas says he hopes the Democrats will be committed to controlling government spending. He says budget issues remain a top concern – especially with the increasing cost of the state prison system and the state hospital.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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