Gov.-elect Phil Scott says he wants to form a coalition of moderate northeastern Republican governors to help protect the states from policies of the Trump Administration.
Scott says he's most concerned about the future of Vermont's health care initiatives in the coming year.
He's been talking with other GOP governors this week at the annual meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Orlando, Florida.
Scott says he's reaching out to several of them.
“I know that President-elect Trump has made some statements, a lot of rhetoric along the campaign trail and now we'll determine what he follows through with,” Scott says. “So it's a bit of apprehension, I believe, from many."
Scott says his initial group will likely include Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and Gov.-Elect Chris Sununu of New Hampshire.
“If we can have a bit of a northeast coalition where I can work with them and we can find common ground, and we find areas where all our states can benefit, then I will continue to work along that line,” Scott says.
He says his immediate concern is the future of Vermont Health Connect, the state's health care exchange.
Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and it's not clear how it will be replaced.
Scott says this could be an opportunity for the northeast coalition to join together on a future health care plan.
"Whether Obamacare is abandoned, then what next? And we need to be prepared for that, and that's why I believe that having a coalition of other governors in the northeast could be the answer for all of us," he says.
Scott says he's also concerned about the future of all-payer, a new health care payment reform plan. The Shumlin Administration has just signed an agreement with the federal government to allow Vermont to implement these changes.
But Scott says the agreement also allows either the state or the federal government to drop out of the plan with six months notice.
"I hope that they don't pull the plug on something that was worked on, apparently, for a couple of years and has the support of many,” Scott says. “I look forward to the possibilities and just try to make lemonade out of lemons.”
Middlebury College political science professor Matt Dickinson is not surprised by Scott's efforts.
“This discussion with other moderate-leaning governors is consistent with his ideology, which was on display in his efforts to become governor, where he talked about how well he worked across the aisle beginning with a Democratic governor,” Dickinson says.
And Dickinson says Scott's regional approach to health care could work.
"He wants to position himself in the aftermath — if Obamacare collapses, what's going to rise from the ashes of Obamacare? We've got to protect the interests of Vermonters, and the best way to do that may be to coordinate with other like-minded governors."
Scott says he also plans to reach out to a number of Democratic governors at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association early next year.