Vermont’s single-payer failure could hold lessons on Medicare for All

Vermont legislators spent nearly four years trying to create the nation’s first single-payer health system, but ultimately had to abandon the idea due to financial constraints. The failed attempt could now offer meaningful lessons for Democrats who are championing Medicare for All, according to an April 29, 2019 Washington Post article.

The article traced the rise of then-Gov. Peter Shumlin and the dozens of decisions his team faced when trying to map out a single-payer system. Despite popular support from constituents, an already low rate of uninsured residents, and some of the healthiest residents in the nation, Vermont was unable to make the system function.

John McDonough, professor of the practice of public health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that he’s concerned that current Democrats aren’t examining Vermont’s experience in order to understand the challenges a Medicare for All system might face.

“I see no evidence from the Medicare-for-all advocacy community of a serious effort to understand and learn from the lessons from Vermont’s failure,” he said. “Those who ignore history are cursed to repeat it.”

Read the Washington Post article: Why Vermont’s single-payer effort failed and what Democrats can learn from it