Vt. Gov. Douglas Rejects Democrats’ Health Reform Plan

May 7, 2006

Gov. Jim Douglas declared Friday that the health reform compromise signed by legislative Democrats on Friday was unacceptable and would not become law.

“I will not,” Douglas said when asked directly whether he would sign the bill, signed just a little more than an hour earlier by the lawmakers who negotiated it.

The difference remained over whether the Catamount Health insurance plan would be a private insurance plan or could morph into a government-run plan that Douglas vehemently opposes.

The bill agreed to by negotiators calls for a new health insurance product that would be sold by private companies. Both Blue Cross-Blue Shield and MVP have said they would apply to sell the product.

But Democrats insisted that, if for some reason the companies did not end up selling Catamount, the government would have authority to step in and do it. Douglas said that puts the state at risk of running a health care plan much like the Medicaid plan for the poor and disabled.

“I’m very, very disappointed that they cling to this publicly run, son of Medicaid plan,” Douglas said at a hastily called meeting with reporters. “I will not leave the Statehouse until we have a meaningful health care bill or have exhausted every option.”

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