NBC Touts Vermonters Pining for Single-Payer Health Care Like Canadian Neighbors

In a report for Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, correspondent Kevin Tibbles highlighted Vermont's effort "to push into unchartered waters and go further than ObamaCare." He explained the left-wing proposal: "Vermont's Democratic state government says it can deliver health care more efficiently and for less to every one of its 600,000 residents equally. All paid for with tax dollars to the tune of some $2 billion a year." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Tibbles noted how, "Doctors bills would go to the state government, essentially eliminating the need for people to purchase private insurance." He then posed the question: "A solution to America's healthcare crisis or the road to bankruptcy for Vermont?"

Turning to a nearby example of socialized medicine, Tibbles declared: "We've decided to travel north through the Green Mountain State to where the United States nestles up to Canada. Where its citizens have had government healthcare for decades."

In the border town of Derby Line, Tibbles spoke to single-payer advocate Jerry Schneider, who gushed: "I'm in Canada right now. Canada has this health care system that I as a Vermonter would like to have. And we're this close." Tibbles wondered: "And you're excited about that?" Schneider replied: "I am."  

The segment did feature criticism of the plan, with Tibbles describing a "battle" in the state over the issue and including sound bites from "local pharmacist Buzz Roy," who "is more than a little skeptical." Roy denounced the idea: "I'm frightened by it. It has the potential to bankrupt the state. Everybody's going to move out...[In Canada] There are long waits for surgery. There are long waits to see just a general practitioner. The wheels are falling off."

However, Tibbles wrapped up the story on the premise that it was only a matter of time before the state adopted the government-run system. A clip played of Time Argus newspaper reporter Neal Goswami observing: "The state will need permission from the federal government. The governor here in Vermont hopes to move quickly because right now he's got a friendly administration to work with and nobody knows what's going to happen in 2016."

Tibbles concluded: "In Derby Line, they've lived side by side for generations with their neighbors to the north. But when it comes to government-run healthcare, will it be allowed to cross the border?"


Here is a full transcript of the July 27 segment:

11:21 AM ET

DAVID GREGORY: We're back, talking about the future of ObamaCare. Thrown into doubt after competing court rulings over subsidies for those who cannot afford to buy insurance.

Meanwhile, the state of Vermont is planning on going further and setting up a government-run, single-payer system, similar to that of its next-door neighbor, Canada. Generating a passionate debate, as our Kevin Tibbles found in this week's Meeting America.

KEVIN TIBBLES: As the sun comes up in Burlington, Vermonters awake to a battle over whether their state can afford to push into unchartered waters and go further than ObamaCare. Vermont's Democratic state government says it can deliver health care more efficiently and for less to every one of its 600,000 residents equally. All paid for with tax dollars to the tune of some $2 billion a year. Many say taxes here could double.

BUZZ ROY: They're outrageous. I mean, the increases that are needed.

TIBBLES: Doctors bills would go to the state government, essentially eliminating the need for people to purchase private insurance. A solution to America's healthcare crisis or the road to bankruptcy for Vermont?

We've decided to travel north through the Green Mountain State to where the United States nestles up to Canada. Where its citizens have had government healthcare for decades. Derby Line's relationship with neighboring Stanstead, Quebec is so close, the Haskell Free Library actually straddles the boundary line.

JERRY SCHNEIDER: I'm in Canada right now. Canada has this health care system that I as a Vermonter would like to have. And we're this close.

TIBBLES: And you're excited about that?

SCHNEIDER: I am.

TIBBLES: Vermonter Jerry Schneider, who has had as high as a $5,000 deductible for his healthcare, was recently given a pacemaker. He says too many of his neighbors don't have health insurance because of the cost. Even with the Affordable Care Act.

SCHNEIDER: When we're worrying, when we're stressed, when we're putting things off, where's the health in that?

TIBBLES: But local pharmacist Buzz Roy is more than a little skeptical.

ROY: I'm frightened by it. It has the potential to bankrupt the state. Everybody's going to move out.

TIBBLES: Roy isn't sold on the Canadian system he says his friends on the other side wouldn't dream of giving up.

ROY: There are long waits for surgery. There are long waits to see just a general practitioner. The wheels are falling off.

TIBBLES: As he travels the tranquil paths of his maple sugar farm, Steven Wheeler worries.

STEVEN WHEELER: I'm over here hoping beyond all hope that they do it and get it right. And it's a little scary.

TIBBLES: Wow. Now what's that?

WHEELER: That's a maple dill dressing.

TIBBLES: Steven and his family churn out everything maple.

TIBBLES: Okay, I'm putting my gloves on now. Like that?

WHEELER: Grab your next bottle. You really need to grab it.

TIBBLES: Grabbing bottle.

WHEELER: You're getting tense. You gotta be relaxed. (LAUGH)

TIBBLES: Health care that covers everyone is a panacea Steve supports. But he worries about the cost and the politics.

WHEELER: We're putting health care in the hands of a very select few people. If politics gets in the way enough, they can negatively impact my future.

TIBBLES: Neal Goswami of the Times Argus newspaper, says the single-payer system still has many hurdles to overcome.

NEAL GOSWAMI: The state will need permission from the federal government. The governor here in Vermont hopes to move quickly because right now he's got a friendly administration to work with and nobody knows what's going to happen in 2016.

TIBBLES: In Derby Line, they've lived side by side for generations with their neighbors to the north. But when it comes to government-run healthcare, will it be allowed to cross the border? For Meet the Press, Kevin Tibbles.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC