An annual Montpelier conference on mental health drew different political perspectives on a single-payer health care system.
Both Gov. Peter Shumlin and his Republican challenger Randy Brock addressed the gathering of the Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery.
Brock said he was concerned that a single payer system could limit a patient’s choice of health care providers.
"I want to preserve that right for you to go some place else," Brock said. "But I don’t believe that the government is in the position to do medical decision-making for you and for your doctor."
Shumlin told the crowd that under the current system, insurance companies make health care decisions.
"It’s called under-insurance: the fear that if you go to the provider you won’t be able to come back and pay the bill. That’s standing in the way of you and your provider," he said. "And that’s what we’re going to fix with the first single-payer sensible health care system in America."
The biggest cheers of the day came for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
He told the conference that someday generations of Americans will look back with disbelief at a time when health care was not a universal right.
"We now are in a moment in a cusp of history when this state can play a profound and revolutionary way in moving America toward a new direction in health care, guaranteeing health care for all of our people in a Medicare for all, single payer system," he said.
Sanders also said his office has helped double federal funds for regional community health centers. He said these centers provide primary care and mental health counseling.