Randy Brock is accusing Peter Shumlin of twisting his words for political gain, and he’s getting some spirited back-up from former Republican lieutenant governor hopeful Mark Snelling.
At issue is “community rating,” a 21-year-old price-leveling mechanism that doesn’t allow private health care insurers to charge old people more than young people for equivalent policies.
Shumlin on Monday said Brock wants to “undo” community rating. Brock says that’s a lie, and has demanded a retraction from the Democratic incumbent.
So who’s right?
In a six-page proposal unveiled last week, Brock says reforms to community rating offer one of the quickest routes to cost-containment, especially for younger families inVermont.
The federal Affordable Care Act – a.k.a. ObamaCare – has imposed community-rating standards nationwide. But the federal law allows greater age-based price variance thanVermont does, and Brock proposes going with the more lenient 3-to-1 ratio allowed in the ACA.
Vermont allows no age-based pricing variance whatsoever, something Brock says “requires healthier young families with children and mortgages to subsidize the premiums of their older, sicker, but sometime much wealthier parents.”
Much to Brock’s chagrin, Shumlin on Monday apparently told a crowd of supporters in Burlington that the Republican challenger wants to “repeal” community rating.
“Gov. Shumlin’s announcement speech falsely claimed that my health care vision would repeal Vermont’s community rating,” Brock said in a statement. “This is patently false and today I’m calling on the Governor to retract this false statement.
We weren’t there for the speech in question. But in a meeting with the editorial board at the Rutland Herald Monday, Shumlin said Brock “wants to undo community rating.”
Technically, that’s not true.
But Shumlin’s campaign manager Alex MacLean says a retraction won’t be forthcoming.
“Whether it’s eliminating community rating or decimating it by forcing older Vermonters to pay three times as much as younger Vermonters, it’s a bad idea,” MacLean said this afternoon. “If Randy Brock wants to focus on his plan to dismantle community rating, that’s a discussion we welcome.”
In his critical narrative of Brock’s health care plan, Shumlin has enlisted a former Republican governor.
“Gov Dick Snelling 21 years ago … his last major act of policy in Vermont before he died was to pass community rating,” Shumlin said Monday. “What Brock’s plan does is say, ‘if you’re sick, have a preexisting condition or are disabled, hey, we’re going back to a system where insurance companies can charge you three times as much … That’s the system he wants to go back to.”
In his Burlington speech, Snelling played an even more central role in Shumlin’s diatribe against the Brock proposal.
Snelling of course died in office. His son, Mark Snelling, issued a statement Tuesday demanding that Shumlin “stop wrapping himself in the comfort of Gov. Snelling’s legacy.”
“He even goes on to voice what Gov. Snelling would have said on the subject of community rating,” Snelling said of Shumlin’s speech. “I have made it a practice over the 21 years since my father’s death not to speculate on what he would have done or said if he were alive. No one knows what he would have said and of all people, Peter Shumlin doesn’t have a clue.”
Snelling stepped out in earnest Tuesday as Brock’s first name-brand political surrogate, offering a blistering indictment of Shumlin’s policies on health care, energy and taxes.
“Let me also be clear about what Governor Snelling he did not do. He did not propose an unproven, fantasy plan for healthcare which will require the largest tax increase inVermont’s history, with no budget and no detailed provisions and just say ‘trust me.’ He did not increase the cost of electricity by forcing energy companies to build expensive and unreliable generation facilities and send the profits to his political supporters,” Snelling said. “I believe Peter Shumlin owes Vermonters an apology and a correction for his misstatement about Sen. Brock’s healthcare plan. I also believe he owes Vermonters and the Snelling family an apology for putting words in Dick Snelling’s mouth 21 years after he passed away. Peter Shumlin’s kick off was a shameful performance.”