VT Health Care Reform Moves Forward

May 11, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Vermont Legislature has approved a health care reform bill designed to increase the number of individuals in the state with health coverage to 90% or 95%.

Similar to a bill recently passed in Massachusetts (See Mass. Senate Votes To Fine Employers Not Providing Health Insurance), the bill provides for health care insurance subsidies for low income individuals and imposes a per-employee fee on employers who do not provide health insurance, Business Insurance reports.   The $365 per employee fee would not apply to employers with eight or fewer employees, but would be charged for employees who decline employer-offered health insurance and do not have coverage elsewhere.

The measure would expand coverage through a new insurance program, sold by commercial insurers, according to Business Insurance.   The state would subsidize premiums for low-income individuals.   However, if more cost effective, the state would subsidize premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for individuals covered by employer plans.

Governor Jim Douglas will sign the bill.   “We have succeeded in forming an alliance of ideas fashioned around our common commitment to making health care affordable and accessible for every Vermonter,” Douglas said in a statement.