The three Republican gubernatorial candidates have very different points of view on the future of health care in Vermont. They also disagree on ways to make the state more energy independent. These differences emerged during a debate on Vermont Public Radio.
The VPR debate marked one of the very few times that the three candidates, Steve Berry, Emily Peyton and Scott Milne have been together during this primary election season.
While the candidates have somewhat similar views on education and the economy, they disagree on the future of health care in Vermont.
Gov. Peter Shumlin wants to make Vermont the first state in the country to implement a single-payer system in 2017.
Steve Berry thinks that’s a terrible idea based on the recent problems at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“It’s going to be the same with any single payer,” said Berry. “No competition means it’s all going to be one size fits all, and the only ones who really prosper under this are the elite and that is the leaders.”
Scott Milne says he wants to see the details of the governor’s plan before he rejects it. And he acknowledged that his failure to come out and strongly oppose single payer has angered some members of the GOP.
“Folks on the other end of the spectrum that feel that single payer is ideologically not going to work, I believe are fighting this ideological battle within the Republican Party, when my campaign is really built on finding practical solutions for the problems,” he said.
Emily Peyton wants to extend health care to all Vermonters by creating free local clinics in every community.
“And I’d also like to see us paying for the tuition of our future health care providers and also have salaried doctors rather than fee for service,” she said.
Peyton has also made the development of renewable fuels a hallmark of her campaign. Steve Berry is not impressed.
“I believe this environment to totally go green is a lot of junk science to it,” said Berry.
But Peyton strongly disagreed with Berry’s assertion.
“I see our planet as sacred and I see a lot of destruction coming to the planet specifically through corporate oil,” said Peyton.
Milne said he wants to reduce the state’s reliance on fossils fuels and he sees natural gas as a way to help the state transition away from coal and oil-based energy sources.
“It’s a low-cost cleaner fossil fuel that’s domestically produced that offers a relatively safe transition off fossil fuels that will not bankrupt the government with tax credits for things that are unproven,” said Milne.
The winner of next Tuesday’s primary election will face two term incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin in November.