House Republicans fought hard against the bill, arguing that it was heading the state in the opposite direction from the recently-passed federal health care bill. Rep. Tom Koch, R-Barre Town, said "we need to get on board with what some people call Obamacare."
What Bill Koch was referring to was a bill, S. 88 (PDF), that would have the state hire a consultant to create an implementation plan for three different health care models, including a single-payer plan.
Versions of the bill have passed both chambers of the Vermont legislature with support of Democrats and the Vermont Progressive Party members. The bill intends to be a step toward implementing real health care reform in Vermont that is significantly more progressive, socially responsible, and cost-effective than the new federal health care law. (Getting around the issues created by the new federal law and ERISA law could be difficult, though.)
I believe what we are seeing in Vermont from some Republicans is a tactical acknowledgment that the new federal health care law is really a pro-corporate, center-right health care law similar to proposals put forward in the past by the Heritage Foundation. Despite the screaming about a “socialist government takeover,” I bet some Republicans are coming to the conclusion thaat this is probably the most right wing, pro-corporate way to expand health insurance coverage that is at least somewhat workable; so, long term, their only real option in many states is basically holding the line on this law while validating it as liberal or centrist by calling it "Obamacare." While Vermont might be the first place you see this, it will probably not be the last.
Eventually, several years in the future, I suspect we will see more Republicans make protecting the wasteful, extremely costly, and pro-corporate design of the new federal law from any effort to move it toward real reform a cause they champion. It will be defended as "free-market health care" and all attempts by progressives to improve it will be, of course, attacked as "socialism."