MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont’s newly re-elected House speaker Shap Smith spoke of hope and opportunity in his address to the 73rd biennial Legislature Wednesday. But among the speaker’s first acts was to remove a whistleblower and outspoken critic of single-payer health care from a powerful health committee.

State Rep. Mary Morrissey, R-Bennington, was noticeably absent from the list of members announced Wednesday to serve on the House Committee on Health Care, an 11-member panel that makes crucial decisions about health care in Vermont.

The 19-year lawmaker and four-year member of the committee was known for asking tough questions about whether the state could afford a universal, taxpayer-funded health-care system in Vermont.

Gov. Peter Shumlin defended the speaker’s imminent committee announcements Monday at a news conference, saying, “It’s a tough job; it’s a thankless job.”

During the lead-up to Shumlin’s Dec. 17 decision to pull the plug on single payer, Morrissey told reporters she didn’t think a small state could “do this multi-billion-dollar initiative without information or even the tax base to produce a good product.”

In his December speech dumping single payer, Shumlin agreed.

“As we completed the financing modeling … it became clear that the risk of economic shock is too high at this time to offer a plan I can responsibly support for passage in the legislature.”

Morrissey also accurately predicted the single-payer plan would far exceed cost estimates.

“With this health care, it’s gone from $1.8 billion to $2.3 billion, and I will contend it’s probably more likely going to be in the $3 to $4 billion range,” she said.

The single-payer balance sheet released by the administration last month indicates the plan would have required $2.6 billion in new revenue for 2017, yet almost $3.2 billion in 2021.

Morrissey said the dismissive attitude shown her during her time on the committee was disturbing.

“The total disregard by all the folks working on the reform is pretty disrespectful. Every time I have asked a question I get, ‘Ugh, totally unfounded’,” she said.

“I’m pretty pointed with financial questions. I’ll ask simple questions that are not trick questions or to catch anyone. I want honest answers.”