Sometimes politicians can rise above politics. That certainly was the case this year in Vermont, where no one expected much from the state government. With a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature, gridlock seemed inevitable. But in May, after two years of negotiations, Governor Jim Douglas signed groundbreaking legislation that makes affordable health insurance available to everyone in the state. The new universal health care law, considered the most progressive in the country, also includes a series of cost-saving reforms.
It is particularly important in the Green Mountain State, which has 61,000 uninsured citizens and a growing senior population. While the bill was clearly a bipartisan effort, much of the credit goes to Douglas, 55, for refusing to give up. "This was such a key issue," he says. "The need was so great in terms of containing costs and providing coverage to uninsured Vermonters that we just couldn't fail."
*The name of this award was originally the Impact Award. In 2008, the awards were renamed as the Inspire Awards.
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