Many people commenting on Vermont's healthcare reform have confused the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) and our state's universal health care plan that has yet to be implemented. It is important that Vermonters understand that these are two different programs, based on two very different approaches to health care and health care financing.
The ACA takes effect in 2014. The recently opened exchange is a requirement of the ACA, which employs insurance as the device to pay for our health care. The ACA does not cover everyone.
Vermont has already enacted but not yet implemented a universal health care plan. It is scheduled to take effect in 2017. It does not use insurance as a device to pay for health care costs; instead it is publicly funded and, best of all, it covers everyone.
Any confusion between these two very different programs is likely to be used by opponents of universal health care to sow discontent in the period between implementation of the ACA in 2014 and implementation of universal health care in 2017.
The Vermont Workers Center is sponsoring a series of forums around the state in an effort to keep our universal health care system on track. A partial list of these forums: Burlington's Main Street Landing train station, Oct. 24, from 5 to 8 p.m.; the Fox Room of the Rutland Free Library, Oct. 28, from 5 to 8 p.m.; Church of the Good Shepherd in Barre, Dec. 3, from 5 to 8 p.m.