By Rep. Kate Webb
A few people have expressed frustration regarding my votes on bills and are seeking explanations why I voted the way I did. One letter wondered why I would vote against an amendment that would have required the governor to present a financing plan for Green Mountain Care by April 30, 2014.
The vote before us was not a “yay” or “nay” on the content of this amendment. The amendment had just been ruled as not germane to the education tax bill. House rules require that an amendment brought to the floor must relate to the bill up for debate, thus keeping us focused. On a vote of 103-35, members of all parties voted against taking up a non-germane amendment regardless of how they felt about the content. We also knew that this topic was under discussion in both the Health Care and Ways and Means committees.
The answer the writer is probably seeking is what is being done about the governor’s failure to come up with a financing plan by Jan. 15, 2013 and where I stand on this. It is important to remember that there is no specific date on which Green Mountain Care will go into effect. There is, however, the requirement for a detailed plan before the General Assembly votes to implement. As long as there is no plan, there is no Green Mountain Care. In the meantime, various committees throughout the legislature have been taking the time to get a better view of how we currently pay for health care and health care premiums, what is currently covered, and what could be covered.
As for timing on the governor’s financing report, Act 48 which passed in 2011, assumed that the state would receive a waiver from the federal government by 2015 – thus 2013, or two years from that date, seemed reasonable. The federal waiver is now not expected until at least 2017. A bill before the House this week will seek that financing plan by Jan. 15, 2015, or two years before the expected waiver. If the bill makes it through both the house and the senate, I will make sure to include a review in our end-of-session reports.
The end of a biennium is often filled with wild amendments; many designed to contribute to pre-election political theater and special interest group scorecards. I know I am on record as being against families, animals, business and America, even though many of these votes do not come close to reflecting my true values or hopes for Vermont.
We anticipate the session coming to a close at the end of next week. Please join Joan Lenes and me for coffee and conversation Tuesday morning, 7:30am at Bruegger’s through May 12. I can be reached throughout the year by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone or text, 233-7798.