Gov. Scott signs individual health insurance mandate that will penalize Vermont families

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Gov. Phil Scott promised not to raise new taxes or fees, especially for young Vermonters, but a new law requiring Vermonters to carry health insurance is set to impose new penalties on many residents of the state.

YOU MUST HAVE INSURANCE: Carrying health insurance used to be a free choice before Obamacare came along. Vermont’s leaders want to make sure it’s never a free choice again, and have passed a state individual mandate, blocking President Trump’s effort to repeal the penalty for those who forego health insurance.

When the Republican-led Congress passed tax reform last year, they ended the Obamacare individual mandate by setting the tax penalty to zero. Instead of paying medical bills with insurance, patients across the U.S. now have the option to forego rising insurance premiums and pay for health care when they receive service.

But on Monday Scott signed H.696 into law, essentially setting the stage to re-impose the Obamacare tax in some form to be determined by a future working group. The governor’s signature makes Vermont the third state to adopt an individual health insurance mandate, following Massachusetts and New Jersey.

In Vermont, implementing H.696 could involving a revival of the “Individual Health Effort Tax,” which was proposed in Vermont in 2005 at a rate of 1 percent of federal adjusted gross income. Republican Gov. Jim Douglas vetoed the measure.

Lawmakers created a working group to determine what the penalty will be and to issue its recommendations at the start of the 2019 legislative session.

As of this point Scott has made no official statement about signing the law. While “no new taxes or fees” has been a slogan of the governor’s campaign and administration, the individual mandate appears to represent a broken promise to Vermonters.

Since the inception of Obamacare, advocates have promised that forcing everyone into the insurance system would cause health insurance premiums to come down — healthy young people who don’t need much medical treatment would subsidize the care of chronically sick and elderly people. But health care premiums in 2017 rose an average of 25 percent over the prior year, and in one case jumped 116 percent.

Premiums have risen modestly in Vermont. This year the health insurance premiums from Blue Cross Blue Shield went up 9.2 percent, and MVP’s rates went up 3.5 percent.

Connecticut, which considered passing its own state health care mandate before it died in a committee, found that the poorest families are the ones who end up paying the mandate. In 2015, almost 60,000 families and individuals in the state paid the federal tax penalty for not having health insurance. Most of those filers reported incomes from $10,000 to $50,000, according to a report in the Connecticut Mirror.

Over in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy this week signed a state health insurance mandate. As was the case in Connecticut, research showed that lower-income families were the ones who most often ended up paying the now-defunct IRS penalty — 78 percent of New Jersey households that paid the penalty made less than $50,000 a year, and 38 percent made under $25,000 a year.

The pattern holds for national numbers as well. Data shows that 79 percent of households that paid the penalty made less than $50,000 per year, and 37 percent made less $25,000.

Will the individual mandate be a tax?

While appearing on ABC News with George Stephanopoulos in 2009, President Barack Obama  made the argument in 2009 that the federal health insurance mandate was not a tax.

“Right now, everybody in America just about has to get auto insurance,” Obama said. “Nobody considers that a tax increase. People say to themselves that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I’m not covering all the costs.”

But Stephanopoulos responded by reading the definition of a tax out of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which defined tax as “a charge usually of money imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.” The Supreme Court also ruled in 2012 that the health care mandate constitutes a tax.

Despite the fight over semantics, Vermonters will soon face some kind of financial penalty for failure to carry insurance.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/NOBama NoMas

11 thoughts on “Gov. Scott signs individual health insurance mandate that will penalize Vermont families

  1. Mr. Stern, you have a perfect opportunity to defeat the current governor during the primaries. Simply run health care adverts over and over and over and over and over, ad nauseum, showing video of the stunning lies admitted to during a panel discussion by MIT professor, Jonathan Gruber surrounding the passage of Obamacare.

    “The Obama administration went through tortuous measures to keep the facts from the American public.” Our current governor and those who supported Vermont State H.696 apparently think they, too, can go through “tortious” measures to keep the real facts from the Vermont public.

    Said Gruber on video, “You can’t do it political, you just literally cannot do it. Transparent financing and also transparent spending. I mean, this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO (Congressional Budget Office) did NOT score the Obamacare mandates as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes the bill dies.”

    “Okay? So, it was purposely written to do that.

    “In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you have a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in, you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, (Obamacare) would not have passed.”

    Continues Gruber, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basicslly, call it the STUPIDITY OF THE AMERICAN VOTER (emphasis mine) or whatever, but basically that was really really critical to get for (Obamacare) to pass.”

    Katie Pavlich writes in Townhall, 10 Nov 2014, “Yeah, (Obamacare) officials and their architect lied to the “STUPID” American people to get Obamacare passed.”

    “It was a law sold to the American public as lies. Obamacare is a sham and the American people have been lied to and deceived every step of the way.”

    And just like Socialism, Progressives and Democrats are attempting to reinvent the wheel until they get it correct. Their ends justify their evil goals as they continue their deceit on the Vermont public.

  2. Governor Phil Scott (R ) what a disappointment.

    Apparently, when he was racing he banged his head (hard) because he thinks he’s
    a Liberal Progressive Democrat with the barrage of foolish bills he has signed lately.

    God Help him, real Vermonter’s won’t !!

  3. Given the fact students can vote where they attend school, hopefully they’ll include a check on every college student’s health insurance status.

  4. Thanks for spreading this news. I can’t imagine why Scott didn’t veto H.696. The bill created a working group to design the penalties of the mandate that will be proposed in 2019 to take effect in 2020. The working group report is due a week before the November election. If Scott seems likely to be reelected, the working group will likely disguise the recommended penalty as something other than a tax that would attract his veto. That’s assuming he’ll be more faithful to his campaign promises to veto taxes than he was about his promise to oppose gun controls.

    • John McClaughry, it remains necessary for full transparency of all facts behind this new Vermont State law.

      The Affordable Health Care Act was a dismal and abject failure. According to Jonathan Gruber, the acclaimed architect of Obamacare, “The STUPIDITY OF THE AMERICAN VOTER” was absolutely necessary to pass Obamacare.

      Some in Vermont have subscribed to this same nonsense. It is high time for full transparency. Effective immediately.

  5. I just moved out and ill be moving even further in a few yrs to get far away from these clowns

  6. Vermont health connect is making people go broke …very hard on young families….

  7. The Gov. is a self proven liar . Time for the republican party of Vermont to find a candidate who isn’t a liar and is actually a republican to run for the governorship.

  8. Make sure they make a mention of that when they are looking to offer $10,000 to import remote workers to come live in the state!

    “(2) A new remote worker may be eligible for a grant under the Program
    for qualifying remote worker expenses in the amount of not more than
    $5,000.00 per year, not to exceed a total of $10,000.00 per individual new
    remote worker over the life of the Program.”

    Pathetic attempt to garner folks to move to VT. Why not just make it a more business friendly place?

    Ashe just can’t stop raising taxes. Once Zuckerman eventually gets elected WATCH out.

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