Progressive leader says Medicaid reform plan would leave more uninsured

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(Host) The chair of the Progressive caucus at the Statehouse says he believes Governor Jim Douglas’s plan to reform Medicaid will increase the number of uninsured people in Vermont.

Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Burlington Representative Bob Kiss said part of the governor’s plan will require higher premiums from Medicaid participants. Kiss thinks this is an inappropriate solution to help reduce a growing Medicaid deficit:

(Kiss) “And I think what the governor has proposed – premiums for people who are already low income – I think will drive more people away from coverage that they have access to now. I think what he’s proposing doesn’t protect vulnerable people. So instead of having 63,000 people uninsured, I think we’ll have more.”

(Host) Kiss says problems in Medicaid are symptomatic of the state’s larger health care crisis. He wants lawmakers to pass legislation that would phase in a single-payer universal access program. It’s one that would most likely be financed through payroll taxes:

(Kiss) “But I think one thing we have to avoid is have Medicaid be the debate. And one thing I’d like to be looking at is a commitment to cover the costs of Medicaid for the next three years – that might be $300 million – but develop the resources to do that so that we can actually focus on addressing health care as the lead issue.”

(Host) It’s likely that the Progressives will offer this approach when a Medicaid Reform proposal is debated on the House floor later in the session.

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