Scott Rejects Individual Mandate Penalty Tax

February 4, 2019

by John McClaughry

Here’s some good news for Vermonters who cherish liberty. Last week Gov. Phil Scott made it clear that he will not support a tax on Vermonters who don’t buy individual health insurance.

Mike Faher of Vermont Digger reported last Friday that Ena Backus, health care reform director at the Agency of Human Services, told the House Health Care Committee Friday that the Scott administration remains strongly opposed to an income tax-based penalty to enforce the law.

“The penalty that we’re talking about today would impact younger and lower-income Vermonters and does not align with our objectives to address demographic challenges and to protect the most vulnerable in our state,” Backus said.

The Scott administration doesn’t believe the uninsured rate is a cause for concern because at 3.2 percent, it’s among the lowest rates in the nation, according to a recent survey. That’s only a third of the national rate.

“We’re proud of this accomplishment,” Backus told lawmakers. “We believe we can continue to improve.”

Of course the Democratic legislature could pass a tax penalty to force their mandate on younger and lower income Vermonters to buy government-approved insurance. But the prospect of a Scott veto ought to give Democrats second thoughts about having to defend bringing this hammer down on the most vulnerable people the Democrats always claim to speak for. A better plan would be to repeal last year’s mandate bill altogether.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert February 4, 2019 at 6:30 pm

Too bad he wasn’t think this clearly before he signed the foolish anti-gun bills last year. And all because of the incompetence of the Broward County sheriff who failed to do his job.


Kimberly McGregor Clark February 5, 2019 at 3:29 am

No one in Vermont, or America for that matter, should pay a fee because they cannot afford something or have chosen another avenue different from that which has been offered them. Have we or have we not gone over the edge on laws that make no sense and do no good? I believe we have gone over the edge time and time again. If politicians want to stay employed it would best suit them to first and foremost not hurt those for whom they work. If that one simple rule was followed there is a great chance they could take things a step further and actually help those they work for. Surely that can’t be too novel an idea. It is never too late to do the right thing. Good for you Governor Scott! Kimberly McGregor Clark


Kimberly McGregor Clark February 5, 2019 at 3:51 am

I actually wrote the above comment on February 4, 2019 at around 10:00, give or take. Lol, making me think it was 3:29 in the morning on the 5th!


Keith Stern February 5, 2019 at 11:55 am

It shows his incompetence to govern signing a bill into law that isn’t complete. Now the penalty can be put in place with or without his approval. It is true we deserve the government we have even for those who didn’t vote that way because we haven’t tried hard enough to fight for change. #802VTAlliance


Deanne February 8, 2019 at 11:42 pm

The whole scam is incomprehensible. Last year I paid a $695 federal penalty for not having health insurance. Six hundred and ninety-five dollars. All those hours of labor with no pay, because I didn’t want to buy something I didn’t want, which they wanted me to have. Talk about top-down dictators. They say they care about people, but they want to make everyone’s decisions for them – take their (our) money and tell them (us) how and when to spend it and what to spend it on. They say they just care and want to help people, but really they want to tell people what to do and boss them around, thinking they aren’t smart enough to make their own decisions. It is really a very haughty, better-than-you attitude.

I don’t live in Vermont, but my ancestors have since the 1700s, and I have many relatives there still. I would have preferred to live in Vermont, but we could see where things were going and decided the fight and expense was too big. New Hampshire is infected with the disease too. Just look at the nannies “representing” New Hampshire in Washington, district of criminals.

I would like to see Vermont (and New Hampshire, for that matter) wake up, but you can’t improve by voting more redistributors into the legislature.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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