A single-payer system is one in which the government, rather than private insurance companies, pays all health care costs. Some on the left have long harbored hopes for a national single-payer system, but the odds that Congress would ever extinguish the private insurance industry have never been anything but long. Vermont is different. Vermonters proudly bring up the state’s maverick, progressive past: first state to mandate public financing for universal education in its constitution, first to partially outlaw slavery in its constitution, first to introduce civil unions for same-sex couples, and first to allow gay marriages by legislation, rather than through a court order. Many Vermonters hope a single-payer health system will be the latest addition to that list.