House frustration shows in effort to hold administration to account on health care financing


Members of the House launched a flurry of amendments Friday aimed at holding the governor accountable for not delivering a proposal to finance the state's planned universal health care program.

The amendments they tried to attach to a tax bill and the budget bill reflect growing frustration in the Legislature with the Shumlin administration's decision to hold off on the specifics of health care reform until the next biennium.

Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, attempted to include an amendment that would call on the Ways and Means Committee to subpoena the administration's work on a financing plan for Green Mountain Care, as the program is known.

House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morrisville, ruled Browning's amendment was non-germane to the underlying bill. Representatives called for a vote on the speaker's decision, which was upheld.

Republicans introduced two amendments to the budget bill that would have curtailed spending on activities related to the implementation of Green Mountain Care until the plan is released. One gave the administration a $250,000 allowance to continue its work, but would've cut off funding after that.

Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield, who sits on the Green Mountain Care Board's advisory committee, said that committee is concerned that if aspects of the plan to transition to a universal health care system continue to be delayed, the board won't have the time properly evaluate them.

"That adds to the problems and issues being raised, by the fact that what's supposed to be done to make this a rational, evaluated rollout isn't happening," she told members of her caucus as they prepared to return to the floor. "Without a stop saying you cannot continue deferring this, it's just setting us up for disaster."

Both amendments were ultimately defeated on the House floor.


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