Browning files appeal of decision on Single Payer financing

Rep. Cynthia Browning (D-Arlington, Manchester) has filed a complaint with Superior Court appealing the denial of her public records request for the financing plans for the state run public health insurance program called Green Mountain Care. Her request was denied under a claim of executive privilege by Michael Costa, Deputy Director of Health Care Reform and Jeb Spaulding, Secretary of Administration.

The following is a statement released April 30 by Browning:

The basis for the appeal will be that since the financing plans were legally required to be delivered to the Legislature by the Secretary of the Administration on January 15, 2013, they are actually already public documents. Therefore there is no basis for withholding them by claiming executive privilege as the Governor Shumlin's administration has done. By establishing a date upon which such records were to become public the Legislature converted what might otherwise be considered privileged records into public records that Vermonters deserve to see.

Vermonters who support the GMC single payer proposal need to see these plans in order to develop them and improve them, and to gain support for the implementation of the program. Vermonters who are skeptical about whether the state run plan is the best approach need to see these plans in order to evaluate them and to determine whether they are financially and politically viable.

But all Vermonters deserve to see these plans because the material is already legally public. It is a violation of the law and of the principles of transparency and accountability that they have been withheld and that the Legislative majority has allowed the Administration to keep them secret.

If the complete financing scenario or scenarios are not fully developed, the draft plans and other materials that have been generated thus far must be shared with the Legislature and all Vermonters. Political convenience and the difficulty of the tasks involved are no excuse for failure to comply with the law.

Vermonters deserve to know how this important promised benefits program might be financed. If the approach is financially and politically unworkable, we need to be able to move forward with more practical and moderate approach to reforming our health care system to achieve the goals for Vermonters that we all share.

The fact that the Legislature is in the process of changing the law so that the old deadline of 1/15/13 is gone and there may be a new deadline of 1/15/15 is does not affect the validity of this appeal. Under Title 1 Section 214 amendments or repeals of a law do not retroactively affect proceedings undertaken or pending at that time. My original public records request was filed in March 2014, and the appeal of the denial is filed today, therefore it will be adjudicated under the provisions of the earlier deadline.


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