State GOP Wants More Time To Consider Health Reform Plan

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(Host) House Republicans want to slow down a single payer health care bill because they say Vermonters need time to carefully consider its potential consequences.

Milton Representative Don Turner is the top Republican in the House. He says it could be risky for Vermont to become the first state in the nation to adopt a government-run payment system.

(Turner) "I think it needs to be fully vetted, and if it takes two years, that’s what it should take. We have ‘til 2014 to meet the federal guideline. So I don’t see any reason for us to be pushing something until we’ve had this opportunity to vet all concerns that have been raised."

(Host) Turner says he hopes the public will use next week’s town meeting to question lawmakers about the proposal.

(Turner) "We’re being told that bill will be voted out on March 11. That’s two weeks from today. And with all these questions, we can’t let that happen without having input from the public."

(Host) House Speaker Shap Smith said the legislation is needed both to meet requirements under the federal health care law – and to address escalating costs.

(Smith) "Based on the conversations that I’ve had with Vermonters, the question of controlling cost is one that is primary in their minds now and they want us to move forward and move forward quickly on it. So I would think that the Republican caucus would want us to join us in addressing the cost issue."

(Host) Smith said his goal is to have the House vote by the middle to end of March and have a bill delivered to the governor by the end of the legislative session.

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