Health Care Emerges As Issue In Treasurer’s Race

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The future of health care in Vermont is going to be a key issue in the Treasurer’s race this year.

There’s a lot of interest in the Treasurer’s contest this year because incumbent Democrat Beth Pearce is facing her first statewide election. Pearce was appointed to the post when Jeb Spaulding resigned right after the 2010 election to become Secretary of Administration.

Pearce says she strongly supports the Governor’s efforts to move Vermont toward a publicly financed single payer system.

"I think it’s a good thing. I think that it’s a public good to have access to health care," said Pearce. "My job as treasurer is to look at the financial ramifications of it. What are the issues in terms of revenues and expenditures, reserve requirements if any, the impact on our cash flows and ultimately our credit rating."

The financing of a single payer system will be a top issue in the 2013 Legislative session if the Governor wins re-election. Pearce wants to be an active part of that discussion.

"When the financing plan comes out we want to take a look out that under the microscope look at the details and see how it relates and then have a constructive dialogue with the Legislature, the governor and the citizens about how to make it work better, how we might be able to tweak it, how we might be able to move forward."

Republican candidate Wendy Wilton is the city Treasurer in Rutland. According to her projections, the state will incur a $2 billion deficit, over the next 5 years, if a single payer system is implemented.

"The big question I was trying to solve in looking at this model was is it feasible is it sustainable and I was hoping that I would find that it would be, ok, honestly," said Wilton. " I didn’t find that to be true so then it brought concerns to the forefront on my thinking about well this becomes a liability for the state."

And Wilton says it’s important for candidates for Treasurer to speak out on issues that could have a significant impact on the state’s credit rating.

"If they don’t tread carefully and my projection ends up coming to reality then we end up in a place where we have a huge liability on the back of the state."

The debate over health care in Vermont could change dramatically in the next few days. On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the federal Affordable Care Act. That decision could have a major impact on the governor’s efforts to have Vermont become the first state in the country to put a single payer system in place.

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