Groups want to expand Dr. Dynasaur program to all young Vermonters

December 08, 2015

Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith wants the Legislature to set aside money to study a proposal to provide publicly-funded health coverage for Vermonters aged 26 and younger. The concept calls for an expansion of Dr. Dynasaur, which provides coverage to income-eligible children up to age 18. Some healthcare reform advocates want to expand that program to all Vermonters age 26 and younger, regardless of income. The proposal would bring about 120,000 new children and young adults onto a public health system. The cost to taxpayers would be several hundred million dollars, and proponents haven't yet said what tax they'd use to pay for it. The director of the Main Street Alliance, a business group that's leading the push, says the program would insulate families from high out-of-pocket expenses seen in private insurance plans, and would redistribute healthcare costs in ways that would benefit businesses, such as rendering family plans obsolete. She says it would also spare businesses from having to worry about coverage for young adults. The Vermont-NEA has spent $130,000 to fund the effort for the Dr. Dynasaur expansion. Main Street Alliance has invested $30,000. A spokesman for the Vermont-NEA, says the union thinks all children should have access to high-quality healthcare, but union members - and the people that pay for their salaries and benefits - stand to gain financially from the proposal. Eliminating the need for family plans could keep policies from exceeding the Cadillac tax threshold. Lawrence Miller, chief of healthcare reform for Gov. Peter Shumlin, says the administration is open to the idea of the study, but not yet ready to commit to spending the money.
Related News:
Coalition calls to expand Dr. Dynasaur to everyone aged 26 or under - WAMC
Single payer advocates propose expanding Dr. Dynasaur - VT Digger
Analysis: In Vermont, desire for single payer remains - VT Digger