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Why Vermont’s Single Party Payer Healthcare Plan Failed

 Stanley Feld M.D., FACP,MACE

Vermont’s single party payer healthcare plan was doomed to fail from the onset for several reasons.

Healthcare policy consultants do not understand the medical care system. The healthcare policy consultants for the Vermont healthcare system were the same consulting architects President Obama used for Obamacare.

The consultants were Harvard’s William Hsiao and MIT’s Jonathan Gruber.

William Hsiao has spent most of his academic career helping governments install healthcare systems. William Hsiao is the K.T. Li Research Professor of Economics in Department of Health Policy and Management and Department of Global Health and Population, at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Jonathan Gruber is a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1992.[1]

He is also the director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a research associate.

Jonathan Gruber has been heavily involved in crafting public health policy.

He has been described as a key architect[2] of both the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform, sometimes referred to as “Romneycare”, and the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as the “ACA” and “Obamacare”.

There is little evidence that the systems he and Dr. Hsaio have built are overwhelming successful, cost effective or preserve consumer freedom of choice.

In fact, a study by NPR and Harvard’s T.Chan School of Public Health concluded that Obamacare is a complete failure.

Dr. Hsaio is on the faculty the Harvard T.Chan School of Public Health.


In a New York Times interview in 2009 Dr. Hsiao discussed the system of healthcare Reform he installed in Taiwan.

The question was:

What’s the most important lesson that Americans can learn from the Taiwanese example?

Dr. Hsiao.

You can have universal coverage and good quality health care while still managing to control costs. But you have to have a single-payer system to do it.

The Taiwan government managed to insure 98 percent of the population with a premium cost of 4.6 percent of wages.


Has your system of healthcare in Tiawan translated into better life expectancy or lower complication rates from major diseases?

Dr. Hsiao.

“There is evidence of positive health results for select diseases, like cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.”

There is no medical or financial data available to prove outcomes have improved.

“Overall, it’s really difficult to say that national health insurance has improved the aggregate health status, because mortality and life expectancy are crude measurements, not precise enough to pick up the impact of more health care.”

“That said, life expectancy is improving, and mortality is dropping. And everyone now has access to good health care”.

This is not good science. It is not even good social science. This is a biased opinion.


What are the system’s weaknesses?

Dr. Hsaio

“In the legislative process, compromises had to be made. First, the president yielded on payment reform, so Taiwan kept its fee-for-service payment system. Unfortunately, that encourages doctors and hospitals to give more treatment in order to boost their income.

“Second, the Taiwanese system doesn’t have a systematic way to monitor and improve quality of care.”

“Third, in the legislative process, they rejected a provision to adjust the premium automatically when the national health system depletes its reserves.”

“In every country, health care costs are increasing faster than wages. When that happens, the premium has to go up. But that provision wasn’t incorporated into the law. As a result, the system is running a deficit.”

“National health insurance tries to cut the fees for hospital and physician services. But eventually these fee reductions will adversely affect the quality of health care.”

President Obama was so anxious to change the healthcare system in the United States to fit his socialist ideology that he picked two professors, Dr. Hsaio of Harvard and Jonathan Gruber of MIT to be the architects of Obamacare.

Jonathan Gruber has been introduced as the ‘architect’ of the Massachusetts law and/or Obamacare”.[52]

Neither professor had scientific evidence that a single party payer system would work efficiently.

Obamacare was not working efficiently yet the progressives in Vermont hired Dr. Hsaio and Dr. Guber to be the architects for Vermont’s single party payer system.

Jonathon Gruber has turned out to be a honest about the Obama administration’s lies.

Many of the videos show him talking about ways in which he felt the ACA was misleadingly crafted or marketed in order to get the bill passed, while in some of the videos he specifically refers to American voters as ill-informed or “stupid”.

In October 2013, Gruber we said: “the bill was deliberately written “in a tortured way” to disguise the fact that it creates a system by which “healthy people pay in and sick people get money”.

Some of Americans are waking up to the fact that they cannot trust President Obama and his administration to be our surrogate. This is true not only in healthcare but in his decision making in every area of the economy and our live.

Gruber said this obfuscation was needed due to “the stupidity of the American voter” in ensuring the bill’s passage. Gruber said the bill’s inherent “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” in selling it .[31]

 In 2010, Jonathan Gruber expressed doubts that the ACA would significantly reduce health care costs. He thought lowering costs played a major part in the way the bill was promoted by the Obama administration.[36]

President Obama said he never met Jonathan Gruber and did not think he came to the White House. President Obama forgot he hired him and paid him a $400,000 consultation fee.

In 2014, the Obama administration claimed that Gruber did not have a major role in creating the PPACA.[50]

President Obama acted irresponsibly to the public by hiring healthcare policy wonks to change America’s healthcare system without evidence for the success because their thoughts fit his ideology.

I don’t think President Obama understands he has changed the way hospitals and physicians have changed their approach to healthcare and medical care.

In my opinion, healthcare and medical care has changed for the worse.

Rich Lowry said that the videos were emblematic of “the progressive mind, which values complexity over simplicity, favors indirect taxes and impositions on the American public so their costs can be hidden, and has a dim view of the average American”.[41]

The American public eventually figures it out.

Commentator Charles Krauthammer called the first Gruber video “the ultimate vindication of the charge that Obamacare was sold on a pack of lies.”[42]

 The Vermont governor hired Dr. Hsaio and Dr. Gruber to create a single party payer system in Vermont figuring,the system would be easier in one small state than in the nation.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D.) announced that he was pulling the plug on his four-year quest to impose single-payer, government-run health care on the residents of his state.

“In my judgment,” said Shumlin at a press conference, “the potential economic disruption and risks would be too great to small businesses, working families, and the state’s economy.”

Watch out Colorado!

Why doesn’t a single party payer system work?

All of the healthcare policy wonks, especial Dr. Hsaio and Dr. Gruber, leave out the most important ingredients in a successful healthcare system.

Consumers cannot be treated as a commodity. Consumers cannot be forced to take what is given to them. The healthcare system must have a viable physician patient relationship provision.

The physician patient relationship is a big part of the therapeutic index. If treatment is to be successful patients must participate in their care.

Consumers of the healthcare system must drive the healthcare system. It must not be government or the healthcare insurance industry.

Consumers must be a the center of the healthcare system.

A system needs to be developed that puts patients in charge, not the government. Consumers must be responsible for their healthcare and their healthcare dollars.

This will motivate doctors and hospitals to compete for patients’ business.

My Ideal Medical Savings Account will provide incentives for the consumers to have a consumer driven healthcare system. This system will in turn drive hospital systems and physicians to compete for their care.

The end result will be to decrease the cost of the healthcare system and improve medical care and consumer satisfaction with the healthcare system.


 The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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We Never Learn: Watch Out Colorado

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

 Winston Churchill

There are many smart people in America.

Americans form opinions from the information presented to them. When the information presented in incorrect or incomplete it is easy to form the wrong opinion.

The art of presenting misinformation and disinformation has been perfected.

The people of Colorado are now being bombarded with the need to pass Amendment 69 or ColoradoCare.

Most Coloradans have not paid sufficient attention to the amendment. Their opinions are being influenced by misinformation or inadequate information concerning the unintended consequence that are inevitable.

Many might look at ColoradoCare’s official website. and read the following.

  • With Amendment 69, ColoradoCare, every Colorado resident can contribute their best, knowing ColoradoCare has everyone covered with universal health care.”   Sounds wonderful.
  • “ Imagine life with ColoradoCare. If you’re a resident and you need any kind of health care (including mental health), you just go to see your provider, and ColoradoCare pays the bill.”Free is great.
  • “Without the layers of hassles, businesses, providers, and everyone in the state can go about their important work of contributing to their families and communities knowing ColoradoCare has everyone covered.”   The problem is nothing is free.                                                                                                        
  •  In a statement to the Colorado Independent October 2016, Bernie Sanders lent his support to the single-payer measure.
  • “Colorado could lead the nation in moving toward a system to ensure better healthcare for more people at less cost. In the richest nation on earth, we should make healthcare a right for all citizens.”

Hillary Clinton has not yet supported ColoradoCare. I believe she is afraid it will steal her thunder by having large increases in government healthcare expenditures she has planned. She plans to increase taxes and get healthcare governance firmly in the hands of the federal government.

The ColoradoCare website goes an to say,

“An economic analysis of health care spending in Colorado has calculated that comprehensive health coverage for every resident could be paid for with pre-tax payroll premiums of 3.33% for employees and 6.67% for employers.”

There has been no effort to prove these numbers are correct.

In fact, all of the Republican establishment politicians in Colorado are against ColoradoCare as well as many high ranking members of the Democratic establishment.

The Democratic establishment includes Governor John Hickenlooper and former governor Bill Ritter. They are opposed to Amendment 69’s passage because they understand the financial burden ColoradoCare would put on the state’s budget and growth.

The size of the current state budget is $25 billion dollars. The tax increase for ColoradoCare would be an additional $25 billion dollars. Everyone can assume the state would need more to implement the program.

ColoradoCare would be far and away the largest tax increase in state history, and would give Colorado the highest tax rate in the nation.”

“ This would be implemented as a payroll tax that would be split into 3.33% for employees, and 6.67% by employers.

An additional $18billion dollars would be asked of the federal government, as well as a waiver to let the state opt out of the Affordable Care Act in order to fund Colorado care.

If voters approve ColoradoCare, it would be written into the state constitution, making it very difficult to dismantle and impossible to amend.

The president of the Denver chamber of commerce is opposed to ColoradoCare because the chamber knows this will drive businesses out of the state and inhibit businesses from coming into the state. The Denver chamber of commerce has worked very hard and very successfully to bring business into the state.

Most of all these politicians know that Obamacare has failed. Oregon’s attempt at the state being the single party payer has failed.

Most recently, Vermont’s attempt at a single party payer system has failed.

Both Oregon’s and Vermont’s governance realized the great fiscal burden to the state budget as well as its businesses and residents.

These states quit before the taxpayers realized the extraordinary tax burden the single party payer system would have on their state.

However, most progressive thinking people cling to the ideology that a single party payer system is the way to universal coverage.

Why did Vermont fail to institute a single party payer system after the state legislature passed the bill?

I will describe the reasons for failure in my next blog.

Walker Stapleton, the Colorado state treasurer said, “a major part of his responsibilities is attention to the fiscal and economic condition of the state.”

He goes on to say,

“If passed by the voters, the provisions of Amendment 69 will have a great negative impact on the state’s fiscal and economic health, as well as impacting individual residents fiscally.”

“If passed, Amendment 69 — creating a governmental entity called ColoradoCare to administer the health care payment system — would amend the Colorado Constitution. It would not be a legislative issue to which the Colorado Legislature could make amendments as needed.”

Walker Stapleton said the state health exchange was supposed be self-sustaining. However, the state health exchange has blown through federal dollars provided.

The State has no way to fix the state exchange or has a way to pay back the federal loan. Walker Stapleton acknowledged the problems with Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, saying, “The exchange was intended to be self-sustaining, and it is anything but, and we have blown through federal dollars.”

United Health and others are leaving the exchange. The exchange has one-fifth of the enrollment anticipated because of cost, network size and service.

“The exchange is in a hole and we have not yet come up with a way to fix it,” he said.

He added that Amendment 69 would assume the state health exchange burden in addition to its debt.

This burden is not good for the single party payer financial burden.

ColoradoCare (Amendment 69) was proposed by a Boulder State Senator, a progressive M.D., with support of the other progressive M.D.s in the Boulder, Colorado community.

Most of the M.D. practices in the Boulder community are owned by Boulder Community Hospital.

I wonder if the M.Ds understand the unintended consequences to the state’s fiscal health, the unintended consequence to the business environment as a result of the increase in tax rate and the unintended consequence to residents experiencing increases in taxes.

I wonder if these physicians are aware of the unintended consequences to their ability to practice medicine.

I suspect the author of the amendment and her followers have not thought about the unintended consequences.


1. Amendment 69 authorizes state taxes be increased $25 billion annually in the first full fiscal year and by such amounts that are raised thereafter.

2. ColoradoCare would be exempt from Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

3. “A 10 percent payroll tax for every employer in Colorado,” Stapleton said.

The employer would pay 6.7 percent and the employee 3.3 percent. If a taxpayer were self-employed, he/she would pay both, for a total 10 percent.

4. Investment income is subject to this tax.                                                                                                                                                                         5. If the employer is outside the state, the tax does not apply for the employer’s 6.7 percent so the employee pays the full 10 percent.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Walker Stapelton said, “It is possible retirement income would be taxed,”

Also of great concern to Stapleton are these additional provisions in Amendment 69:

Transferring administration of the Medicaid and children’s basic health programs and all other state and federal health care funds for Colorado to ColaradoCare;

• Transferring responsibility to ColoradoCare for medical care that would otherwise be paid for by workers’ compensation insurance;

• Requiring ColoradoCare to apply for a waiver from the Affordable Care Act to establish a Colorado health care system;

• And suspending the operation of the Colorado health benefit exchange and transferring its resources to Colorado Care.

I hope the people of Colorado understand what this dangerous amendment represents to the fiscal health of the state.

The population will only understand its negative connotations if it starts paying attention to the consequences.

If it only believes that free medical care is good they do not understand that nothing is free.

A system in which the state offers free medical care will fail at the expense of all the taxpayers.

It has already been proven in Oregon and Vermont.

There is a more effective and less expensive way!

If you are interested please read the following links.

My ideal medical savings account is democratic and provides universal coverage with the consumers being responsible for their choice of medical care while being in control of their healthcare dollars.

Consumers’ responsibility for their health is always left out of models of healthcare reform.

If the federal government or a state government wants a business model to be successful, it should adapt my future state business model.

It is a consumer driven model with consumer responsibility built in so that consumers control their healthcare dollars.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2016 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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More On The Public Option

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Hillary Clinton is a tax and spend Democrat. She will be an extension of the Obama administration.

Her list of promises and expenditures will continue in healthcare without success in providing better cost effective care to Americans.

Her plans for healthcare will result in increased government control of Americans’ lives and freedoms while escalating the federal deficit.

The expansion of President Obama’s failed programs will simply accelerate the path toward total collapse of our healthcare system.


Dr. Robert Kocher was special assistant to President Obama for health care and economic policy from 2009 to 2010. He was instrumental in promoting the consolidation of healthcare systems. He also encourage these healthcare systems to buy physicians practices in order to consolidate networks.

The rational was the government would then deal with one provider (the hospital system). The communications within the network would improve the quality of care and decrease the cost of care.

Theoretically, this should be true. However, the differences between the culture of hospital administrator and physicians made Dr. Kocher’s goals impossible to achieve.

I believed then that the consolidation of doctors into larger physician groups was inevitable and desirable under the ACA.”

This last week he admitted that he was wrong and individual practicing physician groups are more efficient and less expensive than “hospital controlled networks of physicians.”

“I, along with Ezekiel Emanuel and Nancy-Ann DeParle, argued that “these reforms will unleash forces that favor integration across the continuum of care.”

“We thought only hospitals or health plans can afford to make the necessary investments” needed to provide the care we will need in a post-ACA world.”

“Now I think we were wrong to favor it.”

“What I know now, though, is that having every provider in health care “owned” by a single organization is more likely to be a barrier to better care.”

In 2010, I predicted hospital systems owning physicians would not work. Anyone with an understanding of hospital politics and hospital administrators thinking knew it could not work.

The only reason physicians let hospital systems buy their practices was because the physicians were disgusted with the intrusive government rules and regulations and they were afraid they would be left out of the growing future trend.

It was clear to me the trend was misguided political manipulation.

The best of the clinicians tried to make it work but failed. ACO’s controlled by hospital systems were destined to fail and not save money.

ACO’s that are owned by private group practices are barely saving money and profiting by that savings.

President Obama and his administration fell for the concept because they visualized it as a path to control physicians and the healthcare system.

The Obama administration and its experts never considered what the consumers might want or need.

The healthcare insurance industry is now suing the government because the government is reneging on its reinsurance commitment totaling billions of dollars.

President Obama and Hillary Clinton are calling for a public option. This is a diversionary tactic The public option is certain to fail.

The government will continue to remain totally dependent on the healthcare insurance companies for administrative services.

The reintroduction of the public option will accelerate the collapse of the healthcare system. It appears that Ms. Clinton has no idea of the unintended consequences.

The unspoken reality of the “public option” is to destroy private healthcare insurance. It is not a good idea. It will accelerate the  collapse of the healthcare system.


I have written extensively about the consequences of the public option.

The government would squeeze private insurance out of the marketplace through regulatory control over access to care, premium control over consumers, and financial control over providers. The government would undercut the marketplace.

The government will remain dependent on the healthcare insurance industry to administer the services provided for all of the existing government healthcare services including Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare.

The healthcare insurance industry would be in better shape because all the insurance risk would be transferred to the government.

The government programs are unsustainable at the moment. This unsustainability will escalate.

“While private plans must negotiate market rates with doctors and hospitals, a Medicare-like “public option” would fix payment rates by fiat, well below the rates that would otherwise prevail in a real market.

President Obama said just the opposite in his Journal of the American Medical Association article.

Adding a public plan in such areas would strengthen the Marketplace approach, giving consumers more affordable options while also creating savings for the federal government.”

President Obama’s statement is a total lie. However, the mainstream media is repeating the lie as a fact.

I hope President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s public option is no more convincing today to the public than it was in 2009.

It should be less convincing in the face of all the Obamacare failures to date.

Taxpayers are realizing that the public option will put them at more real financial risk. Taxpayer financial risk was clearly stated in the first version of the public option with no congressional questions asked.

The public option does not create a competitive marketplace and level the playing field. The competition will disappear at the taxpayers’ expense.

“Using a market mechanism, like a “health insurance exchange,” then adding a “public option” to undercut private plans and destroy a competitive private market was a political strategy.”

“All the public relations rhetoric about expanded “consumer choice,” promoting “market competition,” and keeping private plans “honest” was, of course, classic boob bait.”

It is clear that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton think the American public is stupid.

President Obama has been playing the American public for 71/2 years. He was correct when he told Senator Kerry and Representative Barney Frank that we don’t need a public opinion.

Obamacare was enough to get central government control of the healthcare system.

Let us think about it a little.

The federal government mandated coverage. The problem is the mandates didn’t work.

Then, Obamacare defined what healthcare plans are permissible.

These Obamacare regulations escalated the premiums and the deductibles to unaffordable heights.

The federal government determined what health benefits consumers could receive.

It didn’t work. If a benefit was not included, consumers bought that benefit outside the system or did not buy healthcare insurance if the benefits where too many.

Physicians started to not participate in the Obamacare system. This non-participation has caused a shortage of providers.

Some medical procedures or treatments were not covered. The government decided what should be covered, what level of coverage should exist and what copayments and deductibles were to be allowed.

Consumers have been protesting. The government has not been listening.

Obamacare has all the tools and power of the law to control the healthcare system without a public option.

However, the Obama administration and another future Clinton administration feel they must destroy the healthcare insurance industry in order to give the public no choice and compel them to comply.

The public option will also fail. It will lead to restrictions on freedoms and liberty. When this is clear the public will get very angry.

The cost of healthcare will rise, not fall, because of greater inefficiency and bureaucratic control.

There will be reams of red tape and unenforceable provisions as a result of government control.

There will be special deals to certain providers in order to avoid uncontrollable protest.

Who will lose? The poor and the middle class!

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2016 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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