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Shumlin unwilling to release health care funding details - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shumlin unwilling to release health care funding details

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, is still unwilling to tip his hand regarding funding for single-payer, but that isn't stopping some from continuing to ask.

A member of the governor's own party says she'll do everything she can to get an answer, but she'll need to add more voices to the choir to give her legal threats any weight.

Others working on the issue are focused elsewhere, so when the governor's plan finally does arrive, they won't be caught flat-footed.

Rep. Cynthia Browning of Arlington is a Democrat, but she's fed up with the governor's secrecy regarding single-payer. She filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out how he's planning on paying Green Mountain Care's potentially $2 billion plus price tag.

"And he refused to provide any work products, memos, reports, draft financing plans on the grounds of executive privilege," said Browning.

She did receive three PowerPoint presentations already available online. They're the result of earlier prodding this year from the House Ways and Means Committee as they sought the same answers as Browning.

"Let the administration get it right. We're not there yet, we're going to take the time we need to get it right and when we do, we'll share it with everybody," said Shumlin.

Fresh off his Caribbean vacation, Shumlin says he won't comment on Browning's request. He did say the lesson of the exchange rollout is that health care must be done right and added that he welcomes the work of the Senate Finance Committee.

"We can't have a never-ending plan or failure to ever arrive at that plan," said Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden County.

The senators stripped a financing mechanism for Green Mountain Care out of the bill before them earlier this year, but the group is working to define some of the benefits to be provided under the scheme scheduled to arrive in 2017.

"We come back in 2015 or depending on when we're going to be presented with a financing plan from the administration, we can actually understand better what it is we're paying for," said Ashe.

"I think that Vermonters need to know how this health insurance program is going to be financed if it's going to be viable and sustainable," said Browning.

Browning says it's easy to discuss what should be covered; the hard part is determining how to pay for it. She says Act 48 required the governor do that last year and says it's time she and her colleagues forced him to do so this year.

Browning has drafted a resolution calling on the governor to provide more info by March 31 or face a legislative subpoena. It's not clear if her colleagues will support her threat.

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