NORTHFIELD — Incumbent Representative Anne Donahue, R-Northfield-Berlin, has announced initiation of her campaign for re-election as representative for the Washington-1 House district.
“I am grateful and humbled by the strong support of my constituents in the primary election,” she said.
Donahue, 60, said that she was committed to continuing her record of hard work and problem-solving. She is a native Vermonter who is a 26-year resident of Northfield and has served in the House since 2003.
“Tackling the cost of health care remains our number one challenge. It’s what drives up property taxes, income taxes and costs to businesses in the state,” she said. “And we have to do it right, without hurting access to necessary care.”
Donahue said she is proud of having drafted and led the way for passing legislation this past spring that prohibited the state from touching Medicare resources, if it negotiates a federal deal to create a so-called “all payer model.”
“The all payer model may create opportunities for a more efficient care delivery system,” she said, but “it isn’t worth doing if it is going to meddle with our citizens’ Medicare, or interfere with consumer protections.”
Donahue was appointed Ranking Member of the House Health Care Committee this term, after years serving on the Human Services Committee.
“I locked in the language that says the state can’t enter into any agreement that would reduce Medicare covered services, increase Medicare patient cost-sharing, or appropriate or aggregate any Medicare payments with state money.”
Donahue said the bill also requires that patients keep the right to choose their providers, and that providers be permitted to choose whether to participate in “accountable care organizations” that manage health care resources. Under the bill, accountable care organizations will be regulated by the state to ensure that health care consumer rights are protected.
Donahue built consensus for the bill in the Health Care Committee and led it to a 124 to 17 vote on the House floor. It was signed into law in May.
As a member of the committee, Donahue also successfully pressed for an independent review to assess whether any parts of the Vermont Health Connect insurance portal were salvageable, to prevent “throwing good money after bad.”
“A new governor will now have the tools to make the right decision for Vermonters after this fiasco of the Shumlin administration,” she said. “We need to rebuild a balance so that we avoid having laws passed that don’t stand the test of discussion and debate. Right now, members often just rush in for the vote on bills without even listening to debate on the floor.”
Donahue said that at least one of the candidates running against her appears to be unaware of the Democratic super-majority that currently runs the legislature.
“He said he wants to ‘awaken the Legislature from the lethargy and inertia that gripped it this past session’ — but it was his party that was in total control of what did or did not happen,” she said. “Change from the status quo means reducing one-party rule in the legislature, not increasing it.”
Donahue is known across the state and nationally for mental health advocacy. She is the news editor of Counterpoint, the newspaper published by Vermont Psychiatric Survivors, a peer-run non-profit.
In 2016, she received the Mental Health Legislative Advocacy Award from a coalition of organizations “for her outstanding service and commitment to improving the lives of individuals affected by mental illness.”
According to the coalition, “Representative Donahue was recognized for her public accessibility and her work to help citizens find help and hope through community resources. Her work in the legislature and the community is actively improving Vermont’s mental health system of care.”
Among her accomplishments in 2016 was blocking the administration from a Medicaid policy change that would have violated federal law on parity in access to mental health care.
Donahue has a 35-year history of public service. She is a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.
Editor’s note: This has been edited for length