State News

Feliciano claims Shumlin wants to “take over” Medicare

By Morgan True,

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dan Feliciano says Gov. Peter Shumlin is planning to “take control” of Medicare benefits as part of a single-payer health care program. A Shumlin campaign official called the claim untrue and a “scare tactic.”

Feliciano said he is “ringing the alarm bell” on Shumlin’s plan to use a federal Medicare waiver to “offset the costs of the single-payer program,” he said at a news conference Tuesday, Oct. 7, in Montpelier.

The Shumlin administration is seeking an all-payer waiver to allow Vermont to set Medicare reimbursements—what and how the program pays doctors and hospitals. Administration officials say the waiver would not allow them to change Medicare’s benefits.

“Medicare benefits are protected by federal law, and it’s never been our intention to take away or reduce people’s Medicare benefits,” said Robin Lunge, director of health care reform for the Shumlin administration.

Legislation passed this year clarifies Green Mountain Care’s relationship to Medicare, making it the secondary payer for Medicare beneficiaries in Vermont. That means services or costs that Medicare doesn’t cover, which Green Mountain Care may, would then be paid for by Green Mountain Care.

However, Feliciano contends Vermont will use a potential all-payer waiver to put federal Medicare dollars in the General Fund and use them to pay for a universal, publicly financed health care program.

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