By Morgan True –


Vermont Republicans are questioning the Shumlin administration’s decision to hire a special lobbyist to push its health care reform agenda. In email blast on Wednesday, the GOP attacked the man tapped for the job.

Former House Majority Whip Floyd Nease has reemerged at the Statehouse, and it was reported last week that he’s back to marshal support among his former colleagues for single-payer health care.

Republicans are curious why Shumlin needs additional help to sell a Democratic super-majority on his plans to transition the state to a single-payer health care system, according to a statement released Tuesday.

Designing and approving a finance mechanism, which is expected to amount to the largest tax increase in state history, is the next step in that process.

The administration is expected to announce several options for financing single-payer in the coming months, and the Legislature is expected to vote on it next session.

The GOP says Shumlin already has two high-level officials working to develop plans and assuage legislators’ fears about universal health care: Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, and Robin Lunge, director of Health Care Reform.

Both have spent a great deal of time testifying before lawmakers this session.

In addition, the GOP said Nease has an anti-business record as a legislator. They cite a 28 percent rating he received from the Vermont Chamber of Commerce in 2008.

“I believe many Vermonters will find this appointment odd and disturbing,” Vermont Republican Party Chairman David Sunderland said in Tuesday’s statement.

“With much of the financing for Governor Shumlin’s health care plan coming directly from Vermont’s businesses, why wouldn’t they be given more a voice in the legislature? This is yet another slap in the face to Vermont’s businesses and job creators by Governor Shumlin and we are asking him to rescind this appointment immediately,” added Sunderland.

Reached on Wednesday while driving through Delaware, Nease said he hadn’t had a chance to read the Republicans’ statement, and said he did not wish to comment until he had an opportunity to do so.

Nease is employed by the Agency of Human Services and is being reassigned to work on health care, administration officials said.

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