Vermont

The Situation

Universal coverage was a popular issue among Vermonters.  Opinion polling consistently demonstrated this.  In 2005, the Vermont legislature enacted publically financed, universal health care coverage legislation.  Governor Jim Douglas, a popular Republican, vetoed the bill.  He remained popular. 

State health reform were determined to reintroduce universal health coverage legislation in 2006, a gubernatorial election year.  But how could they avoid another veto? 

In August 2005, the Vermont NEA, a leader in the fight for state health care reform, invited America’s Agenda to participate in a series of meetings with AARP-Vermont, Vermont AFL-CIO, and other state advocates committed to continuing the struggle for health reform.  

 

Campaign Strategy

After a series of listening sessions, America’s Agenda proposed a radically different strategy to win comprehensive reform in 2006. State advocates embraced the strategy, and America’s Agenda went to work with its Vermont partners to execute the plan. Some key components of the strategy are listed below: 

    Key 1: Build a broad-based, statewide health reform campaign - America’s Agenda designed the structure for a more broad-based, disciplined, and politically potent health reform campaign than had ever been mounted in the state.. Within a few months, The Vermonters’ Campaign for Health Care Security member organizations represented more than 200,000 Vermonters.

    Key 2: Reframe the core campaign message – The core message of the vetoed reform effort had been “Cover the uninsured.” Opinion polling confirmed that Vermonters strongly supported universal health coverage. But it also revealed that the 94% of Vermont voters who already had insurance cared more intensely about the rising cost of their own health plans. Based on these findings, America’s Agenda reframed the Campaign’s core message to “guarantee affordable health care for all Vermonters.”

    Key 3: Public Mobilization - The campaign demonstrated growing public support for reform by mobilizing attendance at public events, such as town hall meetings and health reform forums chaired by Governor Douglas and state legislators.

    Key 4: Earned media initiative – The Vermonters’ Campaign for Health Security worked continuously to create news and establish itself as a trusted source of information.

    Key 5: Paid media spots on the air – America’s Agenda scripted and produced media spots to drive key campaign messages. Paid media was as critical for firming support among wavering moderate Senators as for neutralizing opponents of reform.

    Key 6: Rapid Response Team - When Governor Douglas’ surrogates went on the attack, branding the legislature’s new health reform plan as “Medicaid on Steroids,” the Campaign’s rapid response team was poised to strike back in real political time, challenging the Governor and his team on talk radio, on local newspaper editorial pages, and in direct mail. 

On May 5, 2006, Governor Douglas announced in the Boston Globe his intention to veto health reform legislation, if it ever reached his desk. But the public debate had been reshaped since 2005.  The Governor watched his poll numbers slide and reconsidered… 

 

The Result 

Vermont’s 2006 health reform passed both houses of the Vermont legislature with bipartisan majorities. On May 25, 2006, Governor Jim Douglas signed the Green Mountain Health reform into law. 
 
Vermont’s Green Mountain Health reform remains the most far-reaching health reform enacted by any state in the nation.  The plan has served as a template for federal reform initiatives like the HHS Medicare Multi-payer Medical Home Program and has been viewed by observers as a model for comprehensive federal health reform.  Among the landmark achievements of Vermont’s Green Mountain Health were the following: 

  • All uninsured Vermonters gained access to affordable, comprehensive coverage, regardless of income, in a new, high-performance, team-based care delivery system called Catamount Health
  • Vermonters enrolled in Dr. Dinosaur (Vermont SCHIP), state Medicaid, and Catamount Health receive individualized disease prevention and care plans.  Physician-led personal health teams provide continuous patient support in a high-performance, cost-effective care delivery system
  • Growth in health costs has been effectively reduced. (In the first year of implementation, hospital emergency room visits fell by 30%)
  • Premiums for comprehensive coverage in Vermont’s Catamount Health Plan were the lowest in the nation
  • Premium increases for all Vermonters have been reduced as health reform has reduced cost-shifting to privately insured Vermonters
  • No deductibles / no co-pays for treatment of chronic illnesses in the reformed health care delivery system
  • Free immunizations for all Vermont children

The Situation

Universal coverage was a popular issue among Vermonters.  Opinion polling consistently demonstrated this.  In 2005, the Vermont legislature enacted publically financed, universal health care coverage legislation.  Governor Jim Douglas, a popular Republican, vetoed the bill.  He remained popular. 

State health reform were determined to reintroduce universal health coverage legislation in 2006, a gubernatorial election year.  But how could they avoid another veto? 

In August 2005, the Vermont NEA, a leader in the fight for state health care reform, invited America’s Agenda to participate in a series of meetings with AARP-Vermont, Vermont AFL-CIO, and other state advocates committed to continuing the struggle for health reform.  

 

Campaign Strategy

After a series of listening sessions, America’s Agenda proposed a radically different strategy to win comprehensive reform in 2006. State advocates embraced the strategy, and America’s Agenda went to work with its Vermont partners to execute the plan. Some key components of the strategy are listed below: 

    Key 1: Build a broad-based, statewide health reform campaign - America’s Agenda designed the structure for a more broad-based, disciplined, and politically potent health reform campaign than had ever been mounted in the state.. Within a few months, The Vermonters’ Campaign for Health Care Security member organizations represented more than 200,000 Vermonters.

    Key 2: Reframe the core campaign message – The core message of the vetoed reform effort had been “Cover the uninsured.” Opinion polling confirmed that Vermonters strongly supported universal health coverage. But it also revealed that the 94% of Vermont voters who already had insurance cared more intensely about the rising cost of their own health plans. Based on these findings, America’s Agenda reframed the Campaign’s core message to “guarantee affordable health care for all Vermonters.”

    Key 3: Public Mobilization - The campaign demonstrated growing public support for reform by mobilizing attendance at public events, such as town hall meetings and health reform forums chaired by Governor Douglas and state legislators.

    Key 4: Earned media initiative – The Vermonters’ Campaign for Health Security worked continuously to create news and establish itself as a trusted source of information.

    Key 5: Paid media spots on the air – America’s Agenda scripted and produced media spots to drive key campaign messages. Paid media was as critical for firming support among wavering moderate Senators as for neutralizing opponents of reform.

    Key 6: Rapid Response Team - When Governor Douglas’ surrogates went on the attack, branding the legislature’s new health reform plan as “Medicaid on Steroids,” the Campaign’s rapid response team was poised to strike back in real political time, challenging the Governor and his team on talk radio, on local newspaper editorial pages, and in direct mail. 

On May 5, 2006, Governor Douglas announced in the Boston Globe his intention to veto health reform legislation, if it ever reached his desk. But the public debate had been reshaped since 2005.  The Governor watched his poll numbers slide and reconsidered… 

 

The Result 

Vermont’s 2006 health reform passed both houses of the Vermont legislature with bipartisan majorities. On May 25, 2006, Governor Jim Douglas signed the Green Mountain Health reform into law. 
 
Vermont’s Green Mountain Health reform remains the most far-reaching health reform enacted by any state in the nation.  The plan has served as a template for federal reform initiatives like the HHS Medicare Multi-payer Medical Home Program and has been viewed by observers as a model for comprehensive federal health reform.  Among the landmark achievements of Vermont’s Green Mountain Health were the following: 

  • All uninsured Vermonters gained access to affordable, comprehensive coverage, regardless of income, in a new, high-performance, team-based care delivery system called Catamount Health
  • Vermonters enrolled in Dr. Dinosaur (Vermont SCHIP), state Medicaid, and Catamount Health receive individualized disease prevention and care plans.  Physician-led personal health teams provide continuous patient support in a high-performance, cost-effective care delivery system
  • Growth in health costs has been effectively reduced. (In the first year of implementation, hospital emergency room visits fell by 30%)
  • Premiums for comprehensive coverage in Vermont’s Catamount Health Plan were the lowest in the nation
  • Premium increases for all Vermonters have been reduced as health reform has reduced cost-shifting to privately insured Vermonters
  • No deductibles / no co-pays for treatment of chronic illnesses in the reformed health care delivery system
  • Free immunizations for all Vermont children
State Campaigns

Breakthrough Victory

Radio Spot: "I'm Scared"

Vermont Endorsement

"America’s Agenda has lent our campaign unfaltering support and counsel at every step, yet they have entrusted us Vermonters to make every decision. This is a strategic partnership we want to continue..."

Mark Hage
Director of Benefit Programs
Vermont NEA

"America’s Agenda has lent our campaign unfaltering support and counsel at every step, yet they have entrusted us Vermonters to make every decision. This is a strategic partnership we want to continue..."

Mark Hage
Director of Benefit Programs
Vermont NEA

Follow Us On:

 

Follow Us On: