Vermont nurses are pushing the Shumlin administration and lawmakers to hold firm on what they say is the true promise of universal health care reform in Vermont.
Members of the Vermont Federation of Nurses gathered in Montpelier Tuesday to argue for full funding of health insurance subsidies for low-income Vermonters. The state's transition into the new health care exchange is causing a gap in funding. Some 20,000 residents who don't qualify for Medicaid will be required to use the exchange to buy health insurance and will face sharp cost increases.
"Our ability to implement universal health care depends on the success of the exchange. Making health care more expensive and harder to access in the short term not only makes our long term goal-- a pure universal system-- more difficult, but it betrays the commitment we made to Vermont in Act 48," said Mari Cordes of the Vermont Federation of Nurses.
Because of a loss in federal money, the administration and key lawmakers say that there is just not enough money in this year's budget to protect against the cost increases.
The nurses union did not propose any new revenue sources to pay for the shortfall. And efforts to use the revenue from a proposed sugar-sweetened beverage tax to help fill the gap have not gained any traction.