Vermont state employees union to see what members think of single-payer health care

August 25, 2011

Burlington Free Press
By Terri Hallenbeck

The Vermont State Employees Association has stayed uncomfortably neutral on the issue of single-payer health care under discussion in the state Legislature. The union endorsed the concept of universal health care but not the details. Members, after all, have a pretty good health coverage system they’d be loathe to see change.

Now, the union is looking to hone its opinion by surveying members. In a letter to members this morning, VSEA Legislative Committee Chairman Jeff Briggs said:

“The VSEA Board believes it is important to begin having a conversation internally so that we can help shape the debate and will be ready to go to the Legislature with a firm position when the time comes.”

…“At our July 18th meeting, the Board voted to appoint a 3-member committee who will draft a member-wide survey to get an initial sense of what members want health care reform to look like. Some have expressed anxiety over decoupling healthcare from employment and worry about what impact a single-payer plan would have on their current benefits. Others believe that the current system is unsustainable and that the labor movement should lead the charge in establishing an equitable and affordable system for all. Please respond to this email if there are specific questions you would like to see included on the survey. (for example: How should a publicly financed system be funded? Through a payroll tax? Should unions be allowed to bargain above any standard single-payer plan?)”