Health care reform sparked its share of tense moments between Vermont lawmakers this legislative session. But controversy gave way to compromise and Vermont is now on track to have a single-payer system by 2017.
A new poll conducted for WCAX, WDEV and Vermont Business Magazine asked 600 registered Vermonters if they favor or oppose a single-payer system for the Green Mountains where health care is publicly financed. The answer:
48 percent favor a single-payer system, 36 percent oppose it and 16 percent are not sure.
"The issue of Governor Shumlin's health care plan has always come down to the details and we don't yet know the details," said Chris Graff, a political analyst.
Graff says that uncertainty is reflected in the relatively high percentage of voters who are still undecided where they stand, despite widespread debate on the issue.
"When you drill down farther and you start getting into the details of what's covered, what's not covered, what are the costs and how's it financed, you'll probably see a shifting opinion," Graff said.
The financing of Green Mountain Care remains a mystery at this point in the process. One option is to use a payroll tax to pay for the care. The poll asked voters if they would favor or oppose such a tax. Vermonters are divided: 38 percent say they would favor payroll taxes to pay for health care, but 38 percent oppose it and 23 percent are not sure.
"It's one thing to say do you like a payroll tax, it makes sense at a general level, but when you get down to it and eventually we learn well how big is that payroll tax, that will be a real telling factor," Graff said.
Political analysts say there are a number of large businesses in Vermont that are exempt from Green Mountain Care. If they decide to opt out and the financing of the single-payer system is put more squarely on the shoulders of smaller businesses, that payroll tax could skyrocket, scaring more businesses away.
Our pollster, Castleton Polling Institute, asked 607 registered Vermont voters how they would vote.
Here are the results:
QUESTION: Do you favor or oppose a single-payer health care system for Vermont, where health care is publicly financed?
FAVOR SINGLE-PAYER SYSTEM
OPPOSE SINGLE-PAYER SYSTEM
NOT SURE/IT DEPENDS
QUESTION: Would you favor or oppose using payroll taxes to pay for health care?
NOT SURE/IT DEPENDS
This survey was conducted for WCAX, WDEV and Vermont Business Magazine by the Castleton Polling Institute at Castleton College. A total of 607 registered voters were interviewed statewide by telephone between May 7th to May 16th.
Those interviewed were selected from a random sample of registered voters in Vermont
The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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