Shumlin: Green Mountain Care financing options not ready for prime time
Gov. Peter Shumlin won't introduce tax options to pay for a universal health care system this year, despite promising on several occasions that they would be presented to lawmakers before the end of the legislative session.
"We're not ready, it's as simple as that," Shumlin said at a press conference Monday.
Making the transition to universal health care is the most important move to improve job growth and Vermonters' prosperity in the state's history, Shumlin said.
"All I'm saying is let's get this right. That's more important than meeting some arbitrary deadlines," he said.
However, all deadlines at this point are self-imposed, because Shumlin missed the statutory requirement to present financing options in January 2013.
Shumlin stressed the complexity of the transition to Green Mountain Care, the state's planned publicly financed universal health care program, adding that it requires reforming the delivery of health care as well as how it's paid for.
"This is not like flipping a switch," Shumlin said several times during the press appearance.
But Republicans have accused Shumlin of playing politics with his financing plans, and said he's putting off the tax options until after the upcoming election.
Having greater detail on the taxes Shumlin would use to pay for Green Mountain Care could give them more fodder, but it's also possible not releasing those details could yield plenty of talking points for Republicans as well.
Shumlin may have provided his critics with another one Monday.
Asked if he could name two other options besides the widely discussed payroll tax that could pay for, or help to pay for, universal health care Shumlin said, "Sure, bubble gum and lollipops."
Shumlin said the decision to delay unveiling the finance options was made over the past several weeks.
"We have a very good business advisory group that's helping us to put together a package that will work for Vermonters as well as for businesses," he said. "As we've gotten into the weeds of the various details that need to be ready to lay out a menu of options, there's pretty broad agreement that we're just not there yet."
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