What’s the deal with health care financing anyway?

Two years ago I had the pleasure to sit across the table from Steve Trahan and debate policy when we were both candidates for the Vermont House. I have enormous respect for Mr. Trahan, although we disagree on many issues. That’s why I’m willing to answer his call to respond to the apparent mystery about the future of health care financing in Vermont.

I fully support efforts to reign in health care spending and make health services accessible and affordable for every resident of Vermont. The Shumlin administration and the Green Mountain Care board have provided greater transparency and oversight to our hospital budgets and insurance premiums than we have ever had before. In spite of the obvious technological failure of Vermont Health Connect- more Vermonters have coverage now than ever before and we have bent the curve on the total cost of health care spending in Vermont.

So, if single payer health care is next- which has been the centerpiece of the Shumlin platform- how will we pay for it? Republicans like Mr. Trahan and Democrats like me have called for more specifics. It’s frustrating that the Shumlin administration hasn’t been able to say that we’ll replace expensive, unfair premiums with a specific payroll tax or that co-pays for generic prescriptions will be $5 or $25 under new plans. Make no mistake; you and me and every other taxpayer in Vermont are paying too much for health care now and have been for years.

Those of us who are committed to health care reform are concerned more about getting the financing for health care right than making political hay during the election year. I support health care reform efforts that will end the burden of cost shifting on our private employers and move to public financing.

Yes, single payer or something like it will require lots of new tax revenue. However, Democrats like me will only support this new revenue if it replaces the premiums, deductibles and co-pays that are killing Vermont business owners and their employees today. The Shumlin administration has made it clear that they haven’t gotten the mix of revenue and payment right so that it accomplishes these goals- but they’re working on it. That’s more than I can say for the critics of health care reform.

Having a health care financing system that saves us money and preserves our quality of services will require a full public debate over the next few years and beyond. In November I would ask that you look to candidates who are committed to serving the interests of all Vermonters, so that we can all be healthier at a lower cost. That’s what health care reform is about.

Representative Mike McCarthy
Saint Albans

My Day Job rocks! Showing off the Crossett Brook Middle School to Sustainability Program students in Duxbury, VT.

My Day Job rocks! Showing off the Crossett Brook Middle School to Sustainability Program students in Duxbury, VT.

Legislative Town Meeting Report!

Town Meeting Day Legislative Report

March 5, 2013

Rep. Kathie Keenan              Rep. Mike McCarthy

House Appropriations Committee                   House Transportation Committee

k.keenan@leg.state.vt.us                                 m.mccarthy@leg.state.vt.us

(802) 524-5013                                               (802) 233-7587


            We’re your voices in the Vermont State Assembly, and we would like to share our work and the work of other legislators in Montpelier with our constituents. As the Legislature breaks for Town Meeting week, we return home to Saint Albans and reflect on the first few weeks of the biennium.

Balancing the 2013 Budget

Budget Adjustment

            Both of our committees participated in adjustments to the FY2013 budget that were passed by the House and Senate in H.47. This work included:

  • Returning  $8 million refunded to the State by Hewlett Packard to the General and Transportation Funds.
  • Using Medicaid and state employee health care savings in 2012 to fill General Fund shortfalls in 2013
  • Balancing the 2013 budget even while revenue forecasts fell below expectations.

Preparing for

Vermont Health Connect

            Starting in October, Vermonters who are uninsured, on VHAP or Catamount, or insured by some small businesses will begin to move on to the federally mandated exchange called Vermont Health Connect.

Vermont Health Connect will provide:

            *Easy purchasing of health insurance by individuals and small businesses online, by phone or in person during expanded office hours

            *Affordable coverage for currently uninsured or under-insured Vermonters in 2014 and beyond.

Info at VermontHealthConnect.gov

Transportation Funding

Declining Revenues

            Since 2006, T-fund gas tax revenues have been declining as Vermonters drive more efficient cars and carpool more. Our cents per gallon state tax of 19 cents has been the same since 1993.

Increasing Needs

            With 24% of roads in “Very Poor” condition and hundreds of posted “structurally deficient” bridges across the state, we must continue to invest in our infrastructure so Vermont families and businesses can safely get where they need to go!


What’s the Solution?

            House Transportation is working with the Governor’s proposal of a new percentage-based gas tax and grappling with how to keep our transportation program funded. Other proposals are being discussed and votes will be taken mid-March.


Preserving Public Trust

Pension Forfeiture Bill

            We passed a bill that will enable the State to reclaim money embezzled by public officials from their pensions. This is an important step to deter fraud by public officials and make the State whole when the public trust is violated.

Education Spending

Property Taxes

            While local School Boards set school budgets, the Legislature uses formulas under Acts 60 and 68 to raise the revenue to support the entire system

            The House passed an increase in the base rates from 89 cents to 94 cents for penny rate-payers and 1.38 to 1.44 for non-homestead rate-payers.

            Education property taxes have some income sensitivity for all Vermont tax payers up to $105,000 of income.         While the base rate increases are substantial, our community’s modest increase in per pupil spending, coupled with income sensitivity for most of us, means that the majority of tax payers in our community should see a smaller increase in their actual tax bills than in other towns.

            Failure to pass the proposed education funding package means that the rates would automatically jump to 1.10 for penny rate-payers and 1.59 for non-homestead payers.

Economic Development

TIF for the Future

            As Saint Albans City prepares to leverage Tax Increment Financing to build public infrastructure and increase private development, the Legislature is working on efforts to clarify state policy about TIF and make it an even more powerful tool for economic development

Working Lands

             Working Lands Enterprise funds are already working to help farms and other value-added producers develop new businesses and jobs in Vermont. The House will be debating an expansion of this program this year.

         We love to hear your comments or concerns! Please feel free to contact your Representatives or visit us at the Statehouse!

Playing some tunes at National Night Out Saint Albans! This is a great event for families to come together with City Police, Fire, Emergency Services, the Community Justice Center, Voices Against Violence and many other organizations for food, music and fun!

I need your help to win!

Hi Everyone,

I want to thank all of you for the hard work you’ve done so far. I see signs popping up all over (literally and figuratively) that show how much momentum we’ve been able to build with this campaign. Who would have thought that a young business owner would be able to garner support all over Franklin County (and Alburgh!)? I woke up this morning and made the bagels at Cosmic and I just returned from speaking at a forum in Alburgh. I’m working hard to win, but I can’t do it alone.

The choice in this Senate race was made clear this evening. I am a candidate committed to real Vermont values. I want to help sustainable businesses grow and I recognize the local food economy as a potential engine of growth for our region. I know from listening to you that we can’t fix our toughest problems with the same tired thinking. I need you to help spread the word about the energy I can bring to Montpeiler and the vision I have of growing our local economy by supporting local businesses, making sure families have the support they need, and fixing our broken health care system.

Will you make some calls to your friends and neighbors with me tomorrow afternoon? Bring your cell phone to the Franklin County Democratic HQ next to Cosmic on Main Street in St. Albans tomorrow any time from 4pm to 8pm and help me stun the establishment by talking with undecided voters about the issues that matter most to all of us.

Let me know if you can make it!


Wednesday 10/20
Franklin County Dems HQ

RSVP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=132841296768055#!/event.php?eid=105349136197212
Senior Center

Hi Mike,

So glad you are running for Vermont Senate! I just found your blog etc. and am impressed! How is the campaign going?

The campaign is going great! We’ve had a busy couple of days, and I’ve been out campaigning a bit with Peter Shumlin yesterday and this morning. Trying to keep things moving along at the bakery as well.

Tomorrow I’ll be at Hudak’s at 4:30pm and then Saturday is the Cindy Weed fundraiser. Got to do some more door to door and keep the volunteers hitting the phones. If we keep this up we’re going to win!

Thanks for checking in!


A letter to the editor

I’m Mike McCarthy, and I would like to represent Franklin County and Alburgh next session in the Vermont State Senate. Over the past two years I took a struggling bagel bakery and café in St. Albans and turned it into a successful small enterprise that continues to grow. I want to bring the energy, vision and commitment to sustainable business practices that I aspire to at Cosmic Bakery to the Statehouse next session and put it to work for you.

I was at the Farmer’s Market in Enosburg on Saturday and talked to one of the vendors there about the cost of health care. He was self-employed, running two small enterprises with his wife and told me they were both on a Green Mountain Care program. After over thirty years of paying premiums in to a health insurance plan from his previous employer, without VHAP he would not have been able to afford health insurance while he started his small business.

His story is the story that I’ve heard from so many people while I’ve been campaigning. If the cost of health care continues to rise at over a million dollars a day, we will no longer be able to afford the quality of care that even now only some of us can access. I’m offering a different vision, and I hope to follow the recommendations of the Health Care Reform Commission that was appointed last session to implement comprehensive reform that covers all Vermonters well and that we can all afford.

Health care reform is just one issue that must be tackled next year. The effectiveness of programs like the Community Justice Centers means that taxpayers can save money we now spend locking up some non-violent offenders and shift it to improve or maintain programs that help families make good foundations for productive lives, like early childhood education.

These shifts in priorities must be made with care and based on data and careful evaluation, not ideology. I’m willing to do the work to weigh these issues carefully in Montpelier, to listen to what my neighbors need, and to work toward a positive future for our corner of the state. I have a vision of sustainable industry and innovative businesses successfully operating in Vermont.  They can be supported by locally grown food, powered by green energy with a workforce that is sustained by good schools, hospitals roads and technology infrastructure. I hope you’ll join me in working toward that future together. 

For more information about me and my stance on the issues, please take a look at www.mccarthy4senate.com.


Mike McCarthy

Candidate for State Senate

T-Shirts Are Now Available!

Please help the campaign fundraising effort! We now have T-Shirts available. E-mail mike@mccarthy4senate.com with your desired size (M, L, or XL). A suggested donation of $20 is appreciated!

Here is the design:

T- Shirt Design

You can donate at


Thank You for Civility Vermont

Somehow a person with a church of only fifty people got the media’s attention today. A big WTF to whichever irresponsible news organization picked that up and ran with it. I’m not going to add to the online fire by tagging a story about self-righteous and hateful people here, but I want anyone who reads my blog to know how much I appreciate the respectful and decent campaigning that has been going on here in Vermont during this election year.

We disagree on the issues, but we respect one another. We recognize that religious beliefs are personal, and that one should live and let live. We get angry, and we get frustrated, but I’ve seen Vermonters channel that into a constructive debate that will make our state stronger and our future brighter.

It was a total joy to meet the Gervais family and tour their farm and Boston Post Dairy store last week! Hosting Doug Racine, Peter Shumlin, Deb Markowitz and Susan Bartlett wasn’t bad either. What a weekend!